There is no arguing with part one of that headline. Kevin De Bruyne is indeed world-class. If you are a soccer fan and don’t think so please send us the obviously altered videotapes that you’ve been watching because the rest of the world hasn’t seen them. With all great players though there’s always room to improve. It is, in essence, what makes them great. De Bruyne is no different and as long as he continues to have that will and desire to never stop improving the sky is the limit.
Of course, it’s easy to show your skill when playing for a global phenomenon like Manchester City and the endless amounts of cash they can throw at new recruits, but De Bruyne rightfully gets plaudits for what he does at City. Eight goals and sixteen assists over 2,156 minutes means he’s created or scored a goal every eighty-nine minutes for Manchester City this season. His sixteen assists are the most by any player in the English Premier League ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold (12) and Riyad Mahrez (8).
However, there is still room for improvement in his game.
To start with he predominantly used his right foot with 1479 of his passes coming from that side against only 186 with his left. Could this be a weakness opposition managers or coaches can exploit? Well, he does play on the right of a midfield three which means it could be easily skewed, especially when you look at Silva on his left and see his numbers are also lopsided (865 with his left and only 102 with his right). There’s also the chance though that he’s not as comfortable on his left, therefore, forcing him inside would be the best option. Easier said than done I know.
Then you have short passes (fewer than 5 yards). These should be the easiest passes to make in theory, yet Kevin De Bruyne has a completion rate of only 29.2%. Of the 72 he’s attempted only 21 have been completed. Again in comparison, David Silva has a completion rate of only 36.8% so it could be the way City play as they attempt far fewer short passes to medium (between 5 and 25 yards) or long passes (more than 25 yards), but again as an opposition manager or coach could that be a weakness to try exploit? If nothing else than to see if his short passing is actually as bad as it seems.
And lastly… goals. De Bruyne has never scored more than ten league goals in any season of his pro career, having hit the double-digit mark in 2012-13 for Werder Bremen and 2914-15 for Wolfsburg. At the season pause he had equaled his City best of eight having attempted more shots (3.13 per ninety minutes) than any of his previous four years at City, yet only managed .88 of those on target, his worse since his first full season with City in 2016-17.
Before the Cityzen fans come to crucify me on this Holiest of holidays please let it be known that despite focusing on areas of his game needing improvement I feel de Bruyne has the talent to be a Ballon d’Or winner one day. I just wanted to show that even the great players have areas of improvement.