The Evolution of Kevin de Bruyne

Early stages

Starting his professional career at Genk just at the age of 17, Kevin de Bruyne became a regular in his last season at the Belgian club where he won the Belgian Pro League. De Bruyne initially started his career as a footballer with KVV Drongen in 2003, his hometown club. After two years, he joined Gent and then moved to Genk.

He started to flourish in Genk’s youth set-up and he was called for first team action in the year 2008 when he was just a 17 year old kid. He made his debut an year later in 2009 and made the team recognize his ability in the following year. He scored 5 goals and made 16 assists in the year 2010-11 in which they were crowned the Belgian Champions for the third time. In the next season’s winter transfer deadline day, de Bruyne was signed by Chelsea and he finished his campaign at Genk 8 goals from 28 games.

Chelsea’s calling

After seeing his success at a very young age, Chelsea were interested for his signature and he joined them for a five and a half year contract for a fee in the region of 7m pounds. He expressed his happiness by stating this,

“To come to a team like Chelsea is a dream but now I have to work hard to achieve the level that’s necessary.”

During his time at Chelsea, he was plagued by injuries and went through a rough phase as he fell out of the good books of then Chelsea boss. In the month of July in 2012, KDB made his debut for Chelsea in a friendly against MLS Side Seattle Sounders. The following month saw a move away from the Stamford Bridge as a loan move to Bundesliga side Werder Bremen went through. He was quite successful in his stint at Werder Bremen as he netted 10 times in just 33 appearances. He was named as the Bundesliga young player of the year at the age of 21 for 2012/13 season. It was expected that he would remain in Germany either with Werder Bremen or Bayern Leverkusen but Jose Mourinho however made statements which ensured that KDB returned to London.

After a rift between the player and the manager, the duo decided to part ways as de Bruyne was sold to Wolfsburg in the 2014 winter transfer window. Mourinho insisted that KDB was lazy in training and criticized his displays. The latter though wanted the training to be open to public and so that he could prove his mettle to everyone. In his time at Chelsea, he played sporadically as he just started 5 times for the Blues.

Success at Wolfsburg

De Bruyne landed at the Volkswagen stadium in January, 2014. He made his debut for them in a 3-1 home loss against Hannover 96. In the 16 appearances he made for Wolfsburg in the 2014/15 season he scored just three goals with 54% shot accuracy and 74% pass accuracy. But the following season proved to be his breakthrough season as he netted 10 goals and registered a Bundesliga record of 21 assists to his name. He amassed a total of 111 chances with 75% pass accuracy and was touted as one of the best modern day attacking midfielders. He can play from the flanks and cut inside. He can sit pretty well behind the striker also play as second striker and he is best when he plays in the old-school no.10 role.

In the 2015 DFB Pokal final against BVB, he scored in the 3-1 win as he paved the way for his side to lift the championship. He ended the campaign with 16 goals and 27 assists from all competitions and he was named as the Bundesliga player of the year for his most successful season so far. During his time at Wolfsburg he won many accolades as he started the 2015/16 season by winning the DFL Super Cup against Bayern Munich. By the month of August transfer speculation grew that de Bruyne was linked with a move away to Manchester City. He stated that he would not insist Wolfsburg to sell him but also said that he couldn’t turn down if a lucrative deal comes from Manchester.

He said,” If an offer does come, I will hear about it and how much it is, but I have not yet heard anything… I would not go to England just to prove that I can play there. I do not have to go to England… If I go there it’s because for me and for my family it is a good choice. That’s the key for me.”

Due to his performances at Wolfsburg, he was later named in the 23 man shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or

Life at Eastlands

In the final week of August, City made a bid in the region of 55m pounds for the Belgian and it was quite too big for Wolfsburg to refuse. He became the Club’s record signing. He made his debut for the side on 12th September 2015 against Crystal Palace. In the following weekend, he scored his first goal for the club against West Ham. He then went on to score in next two consecutive games proving that he is very consistent at the top level. One of his most important goals in City colors came when he netted one past the PSG defence as he paved the way for a 1-0 win over PSG in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. This helped City to reach their first ever Champions League Semi Finals stage. De Bruyne was the player of the tournament for City as he scored many other crucial goals in the competition. He scored an injury time winner against Sevilla in the group stages.

In the 2015/16 season, KDB had appeared for the City outfit 25 times in the Premier league and he racked up 7 goals and 9 assists for his name. His contributions in the CL were also telling figures as he scored four crucial goals in important phases. In his first season at City, he averaged a career high passing average of 78% in the league with 64% shot accuracy.  He won the Football League Cup in Pellegrini’s final season and a new manager in the name of Pep Guardiola was waiting to take the reign. His arrival made people think about the possible ways this City side could be tweaked and the different kinds of roles would be given to players such as Fernandinho, Kolarov, de Bruyne, Silva and so on.

This season he has registered 13 assists to his name in the Premier League, leading the assists chart while also scoring 4 goals. His passing accuracy has developed very well as he now averages 81%. In the 2-3-5 system adopted by Pep, de Bryune is being played in the inside forward role and in most occasions he is played wide and cuts infield as an inverted winger. In recent cases, de Bruyne was asked to play in deeper roles along with the likes of Yaya Toure or Delph when City were fielded in a 4-2-3-1. This goes on to show how versatile Kevin de Bruyne is. For his brilliant performances in the last year, he was named as “The Best Belgian Footballer in a Foreign League” by The Royal Belgian Football Association. He pipped the likes of Eden Hazard, Lukaku and several other players to land the feat.

De Bruyne, after a lot of hardship in his personal life, has found himself settle well with the Belgium National Team. Many expected him to find life difficult after his then girlfriend had cheated on him with his Belgian teammate Courtois but he did well to reconcile the rift between the two. KDB has played for the Belgium NT at under-18, under-19 and under 21 level. He made his debut for the senior team in August 2010 in an international friendly against Finland. He became a regular for the senior team in the FIFA 2014 WC Qualification campaign in which he scored 4 goals for the country as they qualified for their first major tournament in 12 years.

Having seen a lot of struggles in the likes of the Chelsea Saga and rows with ex-girlfriend, KDB has become a synonymous figure among the fans of Manchester City and also many followers of this beautiful game. With his intricate passing and football knowledge, he has impressed a lot of pundits and has gained astonishing plaudits for his displays. In just a short span of time, the boy who was once slated for his displays is now being touted as a man who has become a World Class player.

Featured image credits: Mirror.co.uk

Written for: topflighttalk.co.uk

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