Men's Team

Champions in focus: Kevin De Bruyne

In the wake of City’s 2021/22 Premier League title, our latest series shines the spotlight on each member of Pep Guardiola's squad.

A fourth Premier League success in five seasons was sealed on a dramatic final day, as we overcame Aston Villa 3-2 to clinch the crown.

Once again, our domestic dominance proved to be very much a collective effort with every member of Pep’s talented squad playing their own special role.

Today, the spotlight falls on midfield talisman Kevin De Bruyne who enjoyed another stellar campaign.

SEASON STATS

Total appearances: 45
Total goals: 19
Total assists: 14
Premier League appearances: 30
Total cumulative minutes (all competitions): 3,338

Season highlight

A powerhouse in every sense of the word, our Belgian midfield maestro was once again a pivotal presence over the course of a memorable, title-winning campaign.

After a slow-burn initial start to the campaign, with the 30-year-old overcoming the effects of an ankle injury sustained at Euro 2020 and then testing positive for COVID-19, De Bruyne simply got better and better.

His drive and vision proved key ingredients as City stepped up the title initiative over the crucial late winter and early spring period.

And once again he demonstrated his supreme quality with a succession of crucial big-game goals.

De Bruyne it was who struck the winner in our vital 1-0 home win over Chelsea in January.

He also claimed a late equaliser away at Liverpool in last October’s 2-2 draw while the Belgian also bagged a brilliant brace to set us on the way to a 4-1 derby win at home to Manchester United in March.

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But few would deny that Kevin’s ultimate display came late in the season when his astonishing four-goal haul helped us record a magnificent 5-1 midweek win at Wolves.

It was De Bruyne at his dominant, destructive best, with the Belgian bagging a remarkable 17-minute hat-trick - all with his weaker left foot - before adding another on the hour mark.

The men from Molineux simply had no answer to a KDB attacking midfield masterclass.

It was the third fastest hat-trick in Premier League history from the start of a game and encompassed the very essence that makes De Bruyne such an outstanding talent.

Just for good measure, it also capped De Bruyne’s most impressive haul yet in terms of the Premier League goals for a campaign, the Belgian contributing 15 in total.

Further confirmation – if any were needed – of his incredible contribution to the City cause.

Overview

One could be forgiven for almost exhausting the superlatives when it comes to describing De Bruyne’s impact on City.

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Suffice to say that in his seven seasons at the Etihad, he has proved beyond all doubt that he is not just one of the finest midfielders to have ever worn the City shirt but to have graced the Premier League too.

His drive, determination and ceaseless quest to get better have epitomised City under Pep Guardiola and De Bruyne has been at the vanguard of our remarkable success under the Catalan.

And it was no coincidence that another magnificent contribution over the campaign saw De Bruyne named as both the Premier League Player of the Season and City's Etihad Player of the Season.

What’s more, the 30-year-old more often than not saves his very best displays for the big occasions – another hallmark of true outstanding quality.

It’s also about the collective rather than the individual for De Bruyne who is always happy to be deployed where best suits the needs of the team.

As well as his traditional role at the heart of City’s engine room, on occasions over the course of the 2021/22 season, De Bruyne was again deployed either as a false number nine or deep lying forward, further illustrating the astute tactical flexibility that sits alongside his supreme talent and technique.

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One other aspect of De Bruyne’s game that is often overlooked is his discipline and composure.

Across a demanding and high-pressure domestic campaign, he picked up just two bookings – yet further evidence, as if any were needed, of how much composure, stature and footballing intelligence De Bruyne brings to the team.

A champion in every sense of the word!

What they said

Pep Guardiola: “What can I say? In the second part of the season, he has been beyond perfect.

“He has always been a guy who is so generous and has the sense to make an assist, but I think this season he has the sense to be prolific and score goals.

"He won the game against Chelsea; he scored a goal against Madrid and has been scoring decisive goals.

“I am very pleased for him. Scoring four goals in the decisive part of the season right now is so important.

“You have to arrive in the box. You have to be close to the box and this season I think he has done that better and better.

“Hopefully, that can continue. Not just this year, but for the rest of his career. I have the feeling he has now started enjoying goals.

“Before it was just assists, but now I have the feeling he thinks ‘I like when my team-mates come to hug me because I scored a goal’. It’s good!”

Shaun Wright-Phillips: “If you give this man space whether he’s scoring or not he will find a way to cause serious problems like he did all night… it was magical.

“When you score a goal, and your team is playing the way you’re playing already, anything is possible.

“If Kevin comes on the pitch like that the rest of the players will follow.

“He drives the whole team forward. He leads by example, and I think the players around him have risen to the occasion.”

Shaun Goater: “What a player. Every time I watch him play he goes to another level.

“He does things you can’t ignore. He made passes with his back towards the players, and you think, ‘has he got eyes on the back of his head?’

“This guy is a phenomenal player. He’s a joy to watch.”

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