Kevin De Bruyne has already established himself as a firm fan favourite at Manchester City. In the recent goalless draw with Aston Villa, the travelling sky blue faithful could be heard belting out a song about their new Belgian.
Having arrived from Wolfsburg for a club-record £55m, the pressure on De Bruyne was instant. But the 24-year old proved his worth immediately – proving to be the shining light in a home defeat to West Ham in his first start for the club.
With David Silva unavailable, De Bruyne took on the role as the chief orchestrator for City and did so with great distinction; scoring a fine goal and instigating almost every City attack. Although he had experienced it with Chelsea before, it was still incredible to see a player adjust so well to life in the Premier League and though the defeat left a sour taste, City fans coming away from the game knew that they had an immensely talented player on their hands.
De Bruyne continued where he left off. At present, he has scored six goals for City and has contributed even further with the same amount of assists. His stats for Wolfsburg were through the roof but many people doubted De Bruyne’s abilities to produce in the Premier League – especially with how his last stint turned out.
Jose Mourinho and Chelsea’s loss looks to be City’s gain and for a period De Bruyne was on fire, but even the player himself was not overreacting. He dragged City out of the muck against Sevilla with a dramatic last minute winner, but the Belgian has clearly struggled since then.
The Manchester derby on the whole was a disappointing spectacle but it would be fair to say that De Bruyne was largely ineffective and although he grabbed a goal and assist in the Capital One Cup fourth round win over Crystal Palace, the trend continued against Norwich.
A few eyebrows were raised when the former Chelsea playmaker was relegated to the bench for the crucial Champions League test against Sevilla but it proved to be the right call from Manuel Pellegrini.
Most recently, De Bruyne again failed to hit his dizzying heights in the goalless draw with Aston Villa. But should we be overly concerned with his form?
It’s ironic to be writing this after the playmaker picked up his second successive player of the month award for the club, but I think there has definitely been a relative slump in terms of his performance level.
A huge factor in this has been the amount of games he has played in recent weeks. After playing two tough fixtures against Sevilla and Manchester United, De Bruyne then played 75 minutes against Crystal Palace in the 5-1 Capital One Cup. As much as it was great to see Pellegrini field a strong side in the competition, it added further strain to KDB, who desperately needed a rest. You get the feeling that had City not had such rotten luck with injuries, he would have sat that one out. Blows to the likes of Nasri, Delph and Silva placed a good chunk of the workload on the new man.
So for this reason Pellegrini was well within his rights to rest the 24-year old for the trip to Sevilla and I think it did do him the world of good. City failed to beat Villa on Sunday but De Bruyne’s performance was more encouraging, even if he didn’t affect the game in the way he had been doing.
For a few games now, Yaya Toure has been deployed as the number 10 in the City side – with De Bruyne taking up a role on the flanks. With Toure playing in front of the solid Brazilian duo of Fernando and Fernandinho, the City side has been more balanced and cohesive but has lacked a fair bit in invention – that was apparent in the Villa game.
De Bruyne could have provided the solution to that problem but is currently being resigned to a wide position where he is more easily nullified. He is a number 10 at heart, regularly roaming around and making things tick in attack. That’s where he produced his best displays this season and I can’t help but feel that the return of David Silva will do wonders for him.
Silva will likely slot in behind the striker in City’s system but unlike Yaya Toure, he will be granted the freedom to move around – therefore affording De Bruyne more space.
At times the trio of Sterling, Silva and De Bruyne have been deadly and I am backing City’s beloved Belgian to return to top form when he is supported by the Premier League’s most gifted player once again.