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Talking Tactics

De Bruyne the drive behind Man City success

Adrian Clarke 11 May 2018
Manchester City v Chelsea - Kevin De Bruyne

Adrian Clarke analyses the numbers that show influence of Belgian in champions' record-breaking campaign

Several players have contributed to Manchester City's remarkable 2017/18 campaign, but none can outweigh the influence of Kevin De Bruyne.

Operating in a new role for the first time in his career, the Belgian became the most dangerous box-to-box midfielder in the Premier League.

De Bruyne has provided Pep Guardiola with a bit of everything.

Technique, vision, athleticism and skill have all been embodied by the 26-year-old, who has topped almost every major category relevant to attacking midfielders.

De Bruyne's attacking stats 2017/18
De Bruyne Total PL Rank
Assists 15 1=
Chances created 104 1
Crosses 237 1
Accurate through-balls 15 1
Successful final-third passes 971 1
Successful passes from outside area 24 1
Goals from outside area 5 1=
Assist king

Leroy Sane’s hat-trick of assists against Brighton & Hove Albion this week drew the German level with De Bruyne at the top of the PL standings, with 15 in total.

But nobody can match the range of goals that City’s No 17 is capable of setting up.

Whether it is surging down the middle or drifting wide to create from the flanks, De Bruyne can pick a pass or a cross from just about anywhere.

As the chalkboard below of all his assists shows, only two of the 15 have come from inside the penalty area.

Where De Bruyne created City’s goals
Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne assist map 2017/18
De Bruyne assist breakdown
Scorers Assists Type of assist Total
Aguero 5 Open play 13
Jesus 3 Set-piece 2
Sterling 3 Pass 8
Sane 2 Cross 7
Fernandinho 1 Left foot 1
David Silva 1 Right foot 14
Two-footed threat

De Bruyne inflicts most of his damage with his right foot, but his left is also destructive.

Five of his eight goals have come from his supposedly weaker left, and three of those have been long-range strikes.

This underlines his comfort with shooting from either foot.

Only Xherdan Shaqiri has scored as many as his five Premier League goals from outside the penalty area this season.

This makes him incredibly dangerous when oppositions give him room inside the final third.

This season strikes from dead-ball situations, breakaways, clever one-twos, and a piledriver from distance against Swansea City have highlighted an extraordinary goalscoring repertoire.

Late dip

There are only two reasons why De Bruyne has not swept the board with individual accolades in 2017/18; Mohamed Salah’s incredible goal tally, and a tail-off in goals and assists in recent weeks.

The City man has returned just one assist since 10 February and only one goal since 31 January.

However, for the first two thirds of the campaign De Bruyne was operating at a level that was unstoppable.

He has become the ultimate all-round attacking midfielder.

Also in this series

Part 1: Can revitalised Salah restore normal service?
Part 3: Giroud goal threat boosts Chelsea's top-four push

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