Kevin De Bruyne - Player Profile

The Belgian Assist King

Personal information
Full name: Kevin De Bruyne
Date of birth: 28 June 1991 
Age: 24
Place of birth: Drongen, Belgium
Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club information
Current team: Manchester City
Number: 17

Youth career
1997–1999: KVV Drongen
1999–2005: Gent
2005–2008: Genk

Senior career
2008–2012: Genk 108 Appearances, scoring 19 goals
2012–2014 Chelsea 9 Appearances, scoring 0 goals
2012–2013 → Werder Bremen (loan) 34 Appearances, scoring 10 goals
2014–2015 VfL Wolfsburg 72 Appearances, scoring 20 goals 
2015– Manchester City 1 Appearance, scoring 0 goals

National team
2008–2009 Belgium U18 7 Appearances, scoring 1 goal
2009 Belgium: U19 10 Appearances, scoring 1 goal
2011 Belgium: U21 2 Appearances, scoring 0 goals 
2010– Belgium 33 Appearances, scoring 8 goals

It didn’t take long for Manchester City to break their transfer record twice this summer. According to reports, Raheem Sterling, who joined from Liverpool in July, cost City a staggering £49 million. But just a few weeks later, that record was beaten when Kevin De Bruyne signed from Wolfsburg for £55 million. He joins City with a reputation as one of the continent’s best playmakers, equally adept at playing on the wing or in behind the striker. There’s pressure on De Bruyne to deliver. He is seen as the final piece of City’s attacking jigsaw, a player capable of taking the Citizens to new heights. Given his form over the last 18 months, it’s easy to see why there are high expectations. 

De Bryne made his first-team debut for Genk at the age of 18 (having previously been at Gent), and his rise since then has been rapid. In his second full season as a regular, De Bruyne was an integral member of Genk’s title-winning side, making 17 assists in all competitions and scoring six goals. His reputation as the league’s “assist king” was further enhanced in the following season where he made another 15 and bettered his goal tally as well. De Bryne quickly became a star of the Belgium top flight, making 108 appearances for Genk, and he made his debut for the Belgium national side against Finland in August 2010 when he was just 19. He moved to Chelsea for around £7 million in January 2012, but he failed to establish himself as a first team regular. However, successful loan spells back at Genk and later at Werder Bremen where he got his first taste of Bundesliga football, making 34 appearances; scoring 10 goals and making 10 assists proved he didn’t lack ability. That would prove to be a mouthwatering preview of what was to come in Germany as, in January 2014, he signed for Wolfsburg on a permanent basis for £18 million, and his career really began to take off.

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De Bruyne hasn’t looked back since – he made 33 assists in 72 appearances for Wolfsburg in all competitions, scoring 20 goals—an impressive return given goal creation is very much the central aspect of his style. His 21 assists last season is a Bundesliga record and speaks volumes about his ability to lay on chances for others. He’s an unselfish player, one who values assists and making chances for others over any other aspect of the game. He spent the majority of last season playing in the No. 10 role for Wolfsburg, the position which arguably suits his game best. However, at City there is more competition for places, and with David Silva playing so well there so far this season, De Bruyne may have to start on the right in place of Jesus Navas in order to get himself in the side initially. 

De Bruyne's passing is superb, particularly his ability to play through balls that provide chances for others in the final third. He seems to thrive on laying on chances for others, and the prospect of him supplying Sergio Aguero with goalscoring opportunities is a tantalising one for the City fans. De Bruyne is a playmaker capable of occupying a central role, but he can also play wide, drifting inside off either flank. His passing is much more dangerous in a No. 10 position, but his crossing is also excellent, meaning he can cause damage from wide areas, too. Given City look likely to switch to a 4-3-3 formation, with 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 options they can revert to, the Belgian’s ability to play in a number of attacking roles is particularly appealing. 

De Bruyne is a naturally gifted footballer with superb touch and technique that marks him out as one of the best young players in Europe. He is two-footed, has excellent vision, is a good set-piece taker and has the confidence in possession needed to be a creative force. The ability to score regularly from midfield is highly valuable. Pellegrini prides himself on playing an attacking style of football, with goals his primary concern. Players who can contribute from deep areas and further remove the goalscoring burden from Sergio Aguero would help return City to their attacking best. He may find it much more difficult to score regularly in the Premier League, but the timing of his runs and his confidence to try something special should see him contribute goals. Whereas in his early years he failed to produce on a regular basis, he is now much more consistent. He has plenty of room for improvement, but his quality is clear.

De Bruyne has a total of 33 caps for Belgium. He has managed a goal or an assist every 109 minutes and he helped his nation to the World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil in 2014 where he netted one of the crucial goals to help Belgium past USA in the round of 16.. His vital statistics, for both club and country, show why City were so keen to sign him this summer as they look to engineer a better title challenge than they managed last season. De Bruyne, who cites Zinedine Zidane as his favourite all-time player, will hope to replicate his form in the EPL and pay City back for the faith they have shown in him. If he does, City’s chances of silverware will increase significantly.