It’s the Belgian’s sixth successive nomination for the award, which recognises the best players in world football across the past 12 months.
The winner will be announced on Monday 29 November at a ceremony in Paris and in the build-up to the showpiece we’ve been reviewing each of our City stars’ highlights and stats over the last year.
Below, you can discover how and why De Bruyne made the 30-man shortlist.
De Bruyne's performance in our first match of 2021, a dominant 3-1 victory away to Chelsea, set the tone for a memorable year on both an individual and collective basis.
The Belgian operated as a false nine at Stamford Bridge, grabbing one goal and one assist as Pep Guardiola’s men swept the Londoners aside in devastating fashion.
He followed that fine form with two more Premier League assists in wins over Brighton and Crystal Palace, as City’s march to a third Premier League title in four seasons continued apace.
A hamstring injury ruled the midfielder out for a month, but he picked up where he left off on his return as the campaign’s final furlongs approached.
Among a flurry of five strikes in five matches, De Bruyne would grab the opening goal in City’s 2-1 Champions League quarter-final first leg triumph over Borussia Dortmund just one day prior to penning a two-year extension to his current deal at the Club.
And the Belgian would sign off the month with a similarly influential performance in the next round, curling home our equaliser away to Paris Saint-Germain before Riyad Mahrez completed the comeback in our first leg victory in the French capital.
With City continuing our pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple, Guardiola regularly rotated the squad to maintain sharpness, meaning De Bruyne’s influence was mainly reserved for our march to the Champions League final rather than the Premier League title.
But that didn’t stop the 30-year-old from rounding off his domestic campaign with the opening goal and one further assist in a 5-0 triumph over Everton on the final day of the season.
And his stellar contributions were recognised soon after, as he became the first Premier League star in over a decade to claim the PFA Player of the Year award in successive seasons.
"He is such an important player for us and is an excellent person.
“He has done more than good since he arrived here, and he wants to continue to do it."
A facial injury sustained in May's Champions League final ruled him out of his national team’s Euro 2020 opener against Russia, but De Bruyne was in inspired form on his return, grabbing one goal and one assist as Belgium came from behind to beat Denmark 2-1.
There was no let up against Finland, as Roberto Martinez’s men reached the knockout stages with a 2-0 win in which De Bruyne laid on for Romelu Lukaku to complete the scoring.
And while Belgium were ultimately knocked out of the competition by eventual winners Italy, De Bruyne’s influence on the international stage was far from over.
Three further assists in two matches at October’s Nations League finals against France and the Azzurri followed, before De Bruyne played his part in securing his nation’s passage to the 2022 World Cup with one win and one draw against Estonia and Wales respectively.
2021 in numbers – all competitions
Matches played: 37
Minutes played: 2,548