The Thrill Of The Assist
We’re five games into the new season and the frenetic English Premier League is well and truly back. Plenty of talking points etc. Big spending Manchester City have been in imperious form. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have arguably formed the deadliest strike partnership in world football. While the deadly the duo will get all the plaudits for scoring the goals, a lot of praise should be heaped on The Creator. Kevin De Bruyne, The Creator, is the most in-form footballer in the world right now in my opinion. Oh, that noise you hear is PSG fans lambasting me for not picking Neymar as the most in-form player. I’ll take Kevin De Bruyne over Neymar Jr every day of the week, thanks very much. The Belgian operates as Chief Playmaker of Pep Guardiola’s high-powered City side. That says a lot when you consider the likes of David Silva and Bernardo Silva are part of the City fold. De Bruyne is the big ticket in the blue half of Manchester.
De Bruyne arrived in Manchester for a club record transfer fee in 2015 after an impressive season in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg. De Bruyne developed and got his football grounding in the Genk academy, home to graduates such as Yannick Carrasco, Divock Origi, Thibaut Courtois, and Christian Benteke. After making nearly a century of appearances for the club, he was snapped up by Chelsea. Then Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, never really fancied De Bruyne. The Belgian barely made a handful of appearances under Mourinho. The Special One publicly criticised De Bruyne’s attitude and motivation in training saying the Belgian was always crying like an upset kid and wanted to leave the club. De Bruyne refuted these claims and he revealed this year that at the time he requested that Chelsea hold open training sessions so as to dispel Mourinho’s claims about his attitude in training. One has to wonder, would De Bruyne be the player he is today without that tough love approach from Mourinho during his Chelsea days. The flipside, of course, is that if Mourinho gave him a chance then De Bruyne would be producing the goods in the blue of Chelsea rather than in the blue of Manchester.
There’s nothing I love more in football than a humble superstar that puts the team first. Kevin De Bruyne recently said he gets more joy from an assist than from scoring a goal. That truly warms my heart. This team first attitude is the very hallmark of the Guardiola way. The Belgian has adopted a deeper role in the City team since Pep took over the reigns. While his goalscoring has decreased under Guardiola, De Bruyne’s assists have increased. Not only has his assist tally increased but also his overall influence on games as well as making those around him better is very telling. In this day and age, there’s not many superstars that would be so susceptible to sacrificing personal accolades for the good of their team. De Bruyne is very much the exception and this further dispels Mourinho’s character claims about him in my opinion.
Guardiola recently described De Bruyne as one of the best players he’s ever seen. That’s quite a statement from Guardiola who’s coached some of the very best. Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez, David Villa to name but a few.
"Kevin is one of the best players I've ever seen in my life in terms of how he can make absolutely everything happen”
"He's a top, top quality player. We are so proud and so happy he's with us.”
Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the Ballon d’Or since 2008. A lot of people are backing Neymar Jr as the most likely candidate to break the Messi/Ronaldo stranglehold on the prestigious award. For me, Kevin De Bruyne could very well be the man to end the stranglehold but a lot will depend on his team’s ability to perform in the holy grail that is the Champions League.