Following a successful debut full season at VfL Wolfsburg where he bagged 10 goals and 20 assists, Kevin De Bruyne has become one of Europe’s most coveted attacking midfielders. It’s not surprising as a player of that calibre deserves to be at top team in one of Europe’s top leagues.
It’s well known that Manchester City, runners-up in the top flight of English football last season, are heavily linked with the Belgium playmaker. While Wolfsburg, looking to build upon their recent second place finish in the first division of German football, will attempt to do whatever they can to keep the 24-year-old.
For talented young players it is only natural to want be continuously moving up football’s ranks. The first five years of De Bruyne’s career were spent at Belgium side K.R.C Genk. He then had what could be considered a breakthrough season in 2012-13 with a loan spell at Werder Bremen where he scored 10 goals, set up nine assists, but finished fourteenth in the Bundesliga.
Afterwards he returned to parent club Chelsea where he made just three appearances during a six-month period. He’s been at Wolfsburg ever since.
A playmaker role in the centre of the midfield is De Bruyne’s preferred and most effective position. However that’s not a role every big team can just offer a player. For instance each of De Bruyne’s limited appearances in a Chelsea shirt saw him deployed on either the left or right wing. But at admirers Manchester City, the position is at least unoccupied.
The likes of David Silva and Samir Nasri, who often played a number-ten style role in the centre of midfield for their previous clubs, have been converted to wingers at City.
Examining Manchester City’s formations on their title-winning match days, the iconic 3-2 victory over QPR in the 2011-12 season and the 2-0 win over West Ham two years later, shows a four-four-two formation being used both times.
The line-ups had Yaya Toure with either Gareth Barry or Javi Garcia in the middle, Nasri and Silva on the wings, and Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko up top. At Manchester City a central playmaker position, which De Bruyne currently holds at Wolfsburg, is certainly vacant.
Top clubs look for players who will make a meaningful contribution to the team, earn accolades from the footballing world, and of course win trophies. De Bruyne played nearly every minute of Bundesliga football last season, starting all 34 league games and only being subbed off four times.
His impressive tally of goals and assists helped him earn Germany’s Footballer of the Year award. There were further spoils as in the DFB-Pokal Wolfsburg went all the way to beat Dortmund 3-1 in the final and win the cup.
A main allure of the big clubs is getting to play with some of the best players in the league. Big clubs are often breaking transfer records to show their ambitious intent.
Recent examples include Manchester City signing Raheem Sterling for £43.75 million, the fifth most expensive transfer ever in the Premier League, and VfL Wolfsburg acquiring André Schürrle for £22 million and setting the Bundesliga’s sixth most expensive transfer.
When deciding what club to play for De Bruyne needs to see who can guarantee regular game time, alongside top players, in the Champions League, while challenging for trophies.
The decision should be obvious.