The change is happening! Man City decided to put an end to all the past seasons’ mediocrity by appointing former Barcelona and Bayern manager and mastermind Pep Guardiola at the start of the season and so far, it is going really well for the Sky Blues. The Citizens are leading the EPL table after winning their first four Premier Leagues games in a row which included a derby win over fierce rival Manchester United.
There were plenty of positives from this impressive early season form and a lot of players are starting to step up under the new boss. However, Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has probably been the brightest spot for Pep so far. The 26-year-old has proved to be a major key component for Man City going forward.
Coming from Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg for an astonishing fee of £55million last summer. However, De Bruyne’s performance at Man City weren’t as convincing as it was in he 2014/15 Bundesliga season, where he broke the record and gathered an incredible 20 assists for Wolfsburg.
Under previous manager Manuel Pellegrini, De Bruyne was forced to play out of position for almost the entirety of the season while he did perform well when he was deployed in his favoured centre attacking midfield position, which also crept in a lot of criticism over the credentials of the player and the manager as well.
That is changing, however, with Pep at the helm. De Bruyne is finally free from playing out in wide positions and take the reigns from the middle of the field as we saw him being deployed in the attacking midfield positions quite a lot of times this season.
The change of guard in central midfield is also helping as Man City look much comfortable with possession after the introduction of David Silva in the central midfield. They are passing the ball more conveniently and the ball retention has improved a lot with David Silva now pulling the strings in the middle. This change of tactics is helping De Bruyne to be more focused on his offensive gameplay, something we didn’t associate him with under Manuel Pellegrini all too well.
Against Manchester United, De Bruyne was at his best when playing as the attacking midfielder, scoring the opening goal and creating the second goal up for Kelechi Iheanacho. On top of that, he was in absolute menace for the entire game.
Down the years, Pep has been known to change the fortune of players to a completely different level. Many players improved under his era at FC Bayern, some of them drastically. Thomas Muller is now a potent goal scorer, thanks to his smart movements embedded by Pep. Phillipe Lahm has now an offensive side to his game, David Alaba can cover almost every other positions on the field and Jerome Boateng is now the best defender in the world, all thanks to Pep Guardiola. So, De Bruyne, with all his skills might come as no exception in Pep’s talent of improving players.
Fitness, however, could be a major issue for the Belgian international as Pep is also known for his poor habit of overusing players which results in a lot of injuries. We saw how de Bruyne was limping off in the final minutes against United yet Pep wasn’t quite convinced to substitute him and De Bruyne, who is not known for his stamina, might as well struggle in the long run.
But if the 26-year-old can maintain good shape and form under the new boss. He has every ounce of potential in him to be a real asset for his club and country in the future.