The Premier League has rarely seen anything like Kevin De Bruyne. There is an easy argument to make for the Manchester City midfielder being the greatest playmaker to have graced the English top flight in the modern era.
The numbers he has posted and medals he has collected certainly point towards a standing towards the top of that chart – if not in the number-one spot.
De Bruyne makes the game look easy. He can appear to have more time on the ball than anybody else, with time seemingly bent to his will, while the vision and passing range he possesses hints at a physical quirk of having eyes in the back of his head.
Kevin De Bruyne reaches 100 assists in the Premier League.— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 8, 2023
No player has done it in fewer games (237) 🎁 pic.twitter.com/zLR9vuEmAU
City have benefited considerably from the Belgian’s talismanic presence, with a historic Treble secured in 2022-23. Pep Guardiola’s side sit at +2500 in betting odds on the Premier League to capture another domestic crown in 2024 alongside further FA Cup and Champions League honors.
With De Bruyne keeping things ticking over in their engine room, anything should be considered possible. He is tied to a contract in Manchester through to 2025, so will not be going anywhere anytime soon. That should concern rivals at home and abroad.
Alongside the considerable collective success that he enjoyed last season, De Bruyne also hit a notable individual mark. In April 2023, he became the fastest player in Premier League history to record 100 assists. A century was reached there in just 237 games.
The previous holder of that record – former Arsenal and Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas – required 293 outings in order to hit the same target. The Spanish schemer, who boasts a World Cup winners’ medal among his collection, sits second on the Premier League all-time list.
Fabregas teed up 111 efforts for grateful team-mates during his time in English football, while Wayne Rooney – who was always more than just a goalscorer – has 103 assists to his name from spells at Everton and Manchester United.
De Bruyne is fourth as things stand on 102. It will not take him long to overhaul Rooney, while Fabregas is very much in his sights. Given how the Belgium international has fared during his time at City, the expectation should be that he will climb two rungs up the all-time assists ladder in 2023-24.
That may, however, be as far as he gets.
"Oh, Kevin De Bruyne…" 🎶 pic.twitter.com/B5EQDe4Atq— Premier League (@premierleague) June 6, 2023
De Bruyne is unaccustomed to finishing second in anything, with his mentality very much of the winning variety. There is no escaping the fact, though, that United legend Ryan Giggs is likely to fall agonizingly out of reach on the assist front.
The Welsh wing wizard helped colleagues to hit the net on 162 occasions while cementing his legacy at Old Trafford, meaning that he is 60 clear of the most serious pretender to his crown.
De Bruyne has posted 20 assists in a single campaign once before, in 2019-20, but even at that rate he would require three full seasons in order to pull level with Giggs. He only has two years on his current deal and has hinted at walking away, or even retiring in 2025. With that in mind, a Manchester magician from United should expect to retain his standing above one from City… just about.