Manchester City midfielder has signed a new two year extension on his current contract, keeping him with the blues until 2025. The Belgian international joined City in 2015 for a fee of around £54m from Wolfsburg.
Pundits and commentators alike were surprised at the size of the transfer fee, and considered his signing a risk by then City manager Manuel Pellegrini. The midfielder had endured an unsuccessful spell at City’s Premier League rivals Chelsea, having joined the Stamford Bridge outfit on transfer deadline day in 2012. The London blues paid Belgian side Genk £7m for the 20 year old and immediately loaned him back to the Belgian club.
The following season, de Bruyne was out on loan again, this time to German side Werder Bremen. His time with the Bundesliga club was a successful on and de Bruyne made 33 appearances in total, scoring 10 goals in the process, and incoming Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told the Belgian he was part of the club’s plans.
De Bruyne returned to London in July 2013 but made just 9 appearances for the blues before moving to Wolfsburg in the January transfer window for £18m. He spent one and a half seasons in Germany, scoring 20 goals form 72 matches, however it would turn out that it wasn’t just his goals that had attracted City’s attention.
In August 2015, under speculation that City were trying to sign him, de Bruyne made reference to his ill-fated time at Chelsea by saying “If an offer does come, I will hear about it and how much it is, but I have not yet heard anything. I would not go to England just to prove that I can play there. I do not have to go to England.”
City signed the Belgian on 30th August 2015 for a fee of around £54m, the second most expensive transfer in British history, and pundits were almost queueing up to mark de Bruyne as an expensive flop before he’d even signed for the club.
“Manchester City paying so much money for Kevin De Bruyne is an absolute joke,” raged Paul Merson. “I thought he was out of his depth at Chelsea. He never once went out on the pitch and looked like he belonged there. I don’t think he could handle it - and now he’s going to City for about three times what Wolfsburg paid for him. Not for me.”
So it’s fair to say that Merson wasn’t a fan, especially as his rant continued. “He’ll be on the bench at City for a start, because you can’t change a winning team. Who does he get in ahead of? No-one. They’re all playing too well. But he didn’t like it when he was on the bench at Chelsea and he ended up getting bombed out because Jose Mourinho questioned his attitude.
“Okay, he’s had a good season in Germany. But there are only a few decent clubs there really, aren’t there? It’s not the Premier League.” Merson then went on to claim Chelsea’s signing of Pedro was ‘probably twice as good!’
And his fellow Sky Sports pundit Phil Thompson claimed the world ‘had gone made’ when it came to de Bruyne. “The amount of money they are paying for this boy is absolutely bonkers,” Thompson claimed, then said “He’s a good player, but is he a great player?” After writing his previous comments in the Daily Star Merson, on the same show as Thompson, chipped in with “I do not see £50m for this player. I thought it was Lira.”
Fast forward to 2021 and de Bruyne has not only become one of the best, if not the best midfielders in the Premier League, but in Europe too. The Belgian is on the verge of winning a third Premier League title with the blues and has already won four League Cups and an FA Cup, was part of City’s historic treble winning side and has been instrumental in the blues success, and his stats speak for themselves.
In his first season, de Bruyne provided 9 assists and scored 7 goals from 25 Premier League appearances. The following season, he doubled his assist tally to 18, scored 6 and hit the woodwork 9 times.
De Bruyne played a huge part in City’s title success in the 2017/18 season, providing 16 assists and achieving 2,693 passes, making an average of 70 passes per match. Injury blighted much of the following season, with the Belgian only making 19 appearances, however City still went on to take back-to-back titles. Last season, he provided 20 assists and scored 13 goals, his highest tally in a City shirt in the Premier League.
In total, de Bruyne has provided 77 assists solely in the Premier League and his creativity has been widely acknowledged within the game, culminating in him winning last season’s PFA Player of the Year.
The midfielder stated today that City have exceeded his expectations, however it is apparent that de Bruyne has exceeded the expectations of those that predicted he would fail and £54m for a player of de Bruyne’s quality is a snip.
De Bruyne has been one of City’s stand-out players since his arrival. His vision, anticipation and execution of the passes is yet to be bettered in the Premier League, and the contract extension shows how important he is to the club.
The king has not yet left the building.
If you want to have a laugh at Merson and Thompson making fools of themselves, you can view the video here.