On Saturday evening, we marvelled as Sergio Aguero netted four against Leicester City and he rightly got the plaudits. However, thanks to some superb Twitter commentary from Benjamin Mendy, nobody could get away from the fact that Kevin De Bruyne took the p*ss out of yet another decent Premier League outfit.
You know, Kevin De Bruyne – former Chelsea reject and most complete midfielder on this planet (Wes Hoolahan aside, obviously).
A hat-trick of assists and an effortless glide across the Etihad surface for ninety-plus minutes reminded us that we’re truly seeing something special. But it’s not just his array of passes that lead us to this conclusion – it’s his work off the ball, willingness to track someone and defensive discipline that make him the best box-to-box player we’ve seen in a generation.
36942 assist from De Bruyne 😂 pic.twitter.com/XTlhcF4can
— Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) February 10, 2018
First of all, it’s worth pointing out that everything Pep’s boys do in central areas goes through him. He opens up so much for City’s wide men because full-backs tuck in to block any gaps for through balls. As if that would stop him. There is no angle too awkward for him to create something from – and if he needs to create one, he’ll dictate it with one-twos and sending decoy runners. He’s a leader – and you see it time and time again.
Never forget when De Bruyne told Silva and Kelechi exactly where to go to make the goal happen. Poetry in motion. pic.twitter.com/wPB0mWG2It
— JS (@Pepological) February 8, 2018
It’s rare any side are keen to have possession against City, because it would mean breaking their defensive shape. But on rare occasions, De Bruyne knows he’s not just deployed a playmaker – he must defend slip passes from opposition midfielders through his defensive channels on either side.
The Belgian is the definition of a box-to-box general; a trait that’s none too common anymore – especially when you need to build gameplans around certain players these days because they don’t do enough off the ball. *Cough* Paul Pogba, the lazy sh*t *cough*.
In fact, there’s absolutely nothing not to like about him. Apart from that time Belgium hammered Ireland at the Euros, his record is squeaky clean. Even his character is incredible, as seen in the following two examples. The first, sees him leave the Stadium of Light pitch, but running over to sign his jersey for a fan and greeting those around him.
Kevin De Bruyne Showing What A Class Act He Is And Signing The Shirt Too!! pic.twitter.com/7Srat3VUTH
— SporfCenter (@SporfCenter) February 8, 2018
The second example sees him, post-match, asking for Irish underage international Connor Ronan’s jersey, after he performed excellently against City in the cup. A thoughtful gesture – further cementing his good-natured persona.
A fantastic moment.
"You want my shirt?" 😮
Wolves' Connor Ronan swaps shirts with Kevin De Bruyne 👏🏻pic.twitter.com/lLm6KKybF5
— Kenney (@sam_kenney) October 26, 2017
Without doubt, the measure of greatness in practice is seeing the game unfold before it happens – being multiple passes ahead of everyone else on the pitch. It’s this awareness that has lead him to becoming the assist leader in Europe’s major leagues since September 2015 – with a total of forty-one. Just sit and think about it.
De Bruyne actually sees things nobody else on the pitch does. This is on another level. 😱pic.twitter.com/dZfHfGr3T2
— Freddie (@Beardamendi) February 10, 2018
He only cost a grand total of £55 million – which is effectively pocket change for Premier League clubs now. Naturally, this means he’ll end up flocking off to Barcelona or Real Madrid sooner rather than later, so City fans best enjoy him while they can. Would not fancy seeing that lad in the sun for too long, mind.