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Kevin De Bruyne: The monster in Manchester

Thursday 4th January 2018

How on earth do two players get stretched off and now face long-term injury layoffs over strong tackles on a single player on both halves of a match and the player, who himself is also stretched off returns to wow the world just two days later? When such a player not only plays the next match but puts up a commanding performance worthy of a Man of the Man award, you have to wonder if he is human. Such is the wonder the football world is witnessing in Kevin De Bruyne at Manchester City.

Arguably the best midfielder in the world at the moment, De Bruyne is leading Man City to rewrite the history books. But wriggling in pain on the floor after a career-threatening tackle by Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon on Sunday, it was easy to think the beginning of the end of their unbeaten run in the league had finally come for the Sky Blues.

But the football world watched in amazement as the Belgian was in the starting XI for City on Tuesday night against Watford. A match in which he went on to put up another superb performance.

The statistics do not do justice in telling the impact of the former Genk, Chelsea and Wolfsburg player on the field of play for the City team. With six goals and nine assists in 22 matches and 68 chances created for City in the league this season, these figures could easily be waved off as nothing special. But it is in his overall contribution to City’s play that De Bruyne stands out as a monster.

You need to watch him in action for the Ethihad side to understand what we are talking about. His work rate without the ball is second to none in the whole of the Premier League. He is always on the move, like a possessed animal, breathing down the necks of opposition players with the ball. And once he gets the ball, he sets the tone for city’s attack.

With excellent cross-field diagonal and square passes, he sets up attacks in split seconds. Leroy Sane, David Silva or Raheem Sterling is usually on hand to do the rest. The result is a ripping apart of defenses with the opposition team wondering what hit them.

But he is not just ready to provide service for his teammates, he is also ready to take matters into his own hands (or feet in this case) by driving forward with blistering pace and firing past the helpless goalkeeper. Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris, Arsenal’s Petr Cech, and Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea are some of the shot-stoppers to have faced his wrath this season. He drills in screamers that give the goalkeeper no chance to make a save.

Having bagged the Man of the Match award in some of the biggest games this season like the Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal matches, he has shown he is a man for the big occasion.

It doesn’t come any bigger than the Champions League where he has also distinguished himself. In five group stage appearances for the Sky Blues this season, he has scored once and made three assists. This brings his total stats this season to 7 goals and 12 assists in 27 appearances.

Traditionally, for every exceptional team that wins the league and other trophies, there is usually an outstanding player. In Kevin De Bruyne, City has that player. With the Citizens’ position on the table, the question now is not whether they will win the title but how many trophies they will add to it this season.

The only way to stop City this season it seems is to first stop De Bruyne. But how do you stop a monster? Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon tried it and all they got for their efforts is a long time on the treatment table.

Emmanuel Odey

Emmanuel is a freelance journalist who lives and breathes the round leather game. He is a contributor on several platforms. You can follow him on Twitter for more.

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