Manchester City may not have expected this in their wildest dreams when they signed Kevin De Bruyne.
The Belgian attacking midfielder was the difference-maker in the English club’s quarterfinal Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain. The battle of the two nouveau-riche clubs trying to break into the European elite didn’t produce the highest quality football throughout, but City will feel their expenditure has been vindicated thanks to De Bruyne’s impact.
The former Wolfsburg man was the subject of transfer speculation during the summer of 2015. Manchester City were linked with the 24-year-old the most and finally got their man at the end of the transfer window. The reported fee of £50 million was high despite De Bruyne’s excellent displays in the Bundesliga during the 2014-15 campaign.
The Citizens have disappointed in the league this season, but that has only solidified how important De Bruyne has been. City played seven Premier League games while he was out with injury and had four losses, two wins and a draw. Those results effectively knocked them out of the running for the title and left them clinging to the final Champions League spot. De Bruyne’s return at the beginning of April has seen City pick up two consecutive games for the first time since October. That’s no coincidence.
If there were any doubts about how De Bruyne would perform back in the Premier League they have all been dispelled. His time at Chelsea saw him loaned to Werder Bremen just a few months after signing before eventually leaving permanently only half a season into Jose Mourinho‘s second stint in charge at the club. Those who questioned Mourinho’s decision to let De Bruyne leave without giving him a proper chance will now feel vindicated.
The former Wolfsburg man has undoubtedly been more important to City’s attacking potency than David Silva, Yaya Toure and fellow big-money signing Raheem Sterling. The statistics back that up during City’s poor spell in the Premier League, and De Bruyne’s two performances against PSG add further credence to that argument.
De Bruyne has provided the clinical edge in front of goal that both Silva and Sterling lack. He’s certainly bested Toure in both the goals and assists department. Only Sterling matches him when it comes to assists, equaling his 12. One could argue that, given their importance, his two goals against PSG could have been the only for his club yet he would still surpass his teammates.
Manchester City now get a chance to prepare for their first Champions League semifinals. With De Bruyne leading the way they will feel that a place in the final is a possibility. That alone makes him well worth all that money spent.