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How Kevin De Bruyne Became One Of The Top 5 Players In The World

Potential is defined as the latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness. 

Kevin De Bruyne is the cover boy of Potential Illustrated, the long-running theoretical magazine that is littered with pages of soccer players that just didn’t make it. 

There are millions of both aimless and worthwhile reasons for why some players just never figure it out. Talent, oddly enough, usually goes hand in hand with prospective failure. 

Talent gets you nowhere if you can’t master your craft, which is what soccer is. Soccer is an art, and in order to fulfill that potential and maximize any amount of talent, a player must have the right brush, the right stroke and plenty of paint at his/her disposal.

In this metaphor, which may or may not make any sense, the paint is a player’s skills and attributes. The stroke is a player’s innate footballing instincts. The brush is a player’s coaching. Every single aspect is needed in order for the sum to be a functioning work of art that can captivate and achieve its true goal (pun intended).

The word “potential” was always thrown around with De Bruyne. “Wunderkind”, the word generally reserved for the precociously talented, wasn’t stapled onto his forehead, but many agreed that he had a very bright future. 

The Belgian began his soccer career domestically, as most soccer stars do. His first youth club was his hometown team in Drongen. He then moved on to K.A.A. Gent and eventually to K.R.C. Genk, the team that he would make his senior debut with. 

His intriguing skill set and his performances at Genk earned him a move to Chelsea in 2012, where he was stockpiled along with other young talents and loaned out for one year, much like his Belgian compatriots Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois. 

De Bruyne was sold in 2014 to Wolfsburg, where he won himself the German Footballer of the Year award as he helped his team finish second in the Bundesliga behind Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich team. He was already a fantastic footballer, but there was still much latent talent yet to be unleashed in him.

Manchester City signed him for a club-record fee in the summer of 2015. A great initial 2015-2016 season has, so far, been topped by a stellar start to this new season. 

Formerly a winger, and a good one at that, De Bruyne has flourished in Manchester City since being given the reins of the offense. He’s been frequently deployed as a No. 10 enganche, the designated playmaker. It should come as no surprise that De Bruyne’s ascension into superstar status coincided with Guardiola’s arrival to Manchester City in 2016. 

Guardiola is arguably the best coach in the world and one of the greatest of all-time. He gets the best out of his players’ talents, although he’s gotten to work with many players that were stars before he got his hands on them. But he has an affinity for smart, creative playmakers. 


When he took over at Barcelona in 2008, a man we’ve come to know as King Leo was but a quick winger that hadn’t come into his own yet. Guardiola began using Messi more towards the middle of the field, allowing the little playmaker to roam inside from his right wing position.

Early in 2010, Guardiola started deploying Messi as a false nine, giving him the freedom he needed to see the entire field. The rest is goals, assists and a whole bunch of history. 

When Guardiola took over at Bayern Munich in 2013, he brought with him Thiago Alcantara, one of his prodigies at Barcelona. While Thiago struggled a bit with injuries and friendly competition from other Bayern stars, his performances under Guardiola were masterful. 

A superb passer, Thiago has completed over 90% of his passes while playing for Pep and can now command an entire midfield on his lonesome.

De Bruyne has shown to be more than just a creative playmaker, though. While Messi was/is a center forward/right winger and Thiago is a center midfielder, De Bruyne is a mesh of both (not in talent, relax everyone). 

KDB operates as an attacking midfielder, one that can push forward and attack from either the left, the middle or the right and one that can lay back, intercept the ball and spring counter-attacks from behind the halfway line. 

He’s now playing with controlled chaos, channeling his speed, strength and creative instinct into a wrecking ball of beauty. In his second season in Manchester, he has bumped up his pass accuracy by 5.6% and he’s already contributed two goals and three assists in just five appearances. 

Yet it’s not just the precise passing, the subtle finishing or the long-range bullets that leave you thinking this man is the real deal. The ease with which he controls the ball and the effortless flair that oozes out of his touches are world-class.

There aren’t many players in the world right now that are on the same level as De Bruyne, technically and instinctively. Everything he does on a soccer field gets you thinking that he just may be your next favorite player. 

Well, join the club. His fan list is growing quick, and it won’t stop anytime soon. 

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