Pep Guardiola marvels at the defence-splitting passes from Kevin De Bruyne that drive Manchester City to new heights – and it makes him wonder how the Belgian occasionally bungles the elementary side of the game.
It was a case of De Bruyne at his brilliant best in City’s 8-0 thumping of Watford on Saturday, a result he capped with a sublime late strike.
City would love him to reproduce the devastating playmaking skills that tore a hole in the Hornets’ defence on a match-by-match basis, but not even De Bruyne can be perfect every day.
Since De Bruyne made his City debut in September 2015, however, he has provided more Premier League assists than any other player, with 52 goals laid on for team-mates so far.
There has been the odd stray pass, the odd near-anonymous performance.
And Guardiola – a top-class midfielder himself before turning to coaching – stops to wonder how, when a player can be so peerless one day, at other times, no matter how infrequent, he can still look mortal.
“He was quite good, yeah?” said Guardiola after De Bruyne’s masterclass in the Watford match. “The guy has a future, yeah?”
Enjoy your sunday! pic.twitter.com/6ah1CZnOZd
— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) September 22, 2019
Guardiola’s deadpan handling of questions about De Bruyne signals his appreciation of the 28-year-old’s ability.
“Kevin is a special player, sometimes he sees something the other guys cannot see on the pitch,” said the former Barcelona head coach.
“Sometimes I’m a little bit like ‘Grrr’, when it’s a simple ball and he loses it. How, with your quality, can you lose it?
“But he’s an incredibly talented player, with his vision up front and the quality he has.
“We had an incredible season, winning four titles, but we missed him a lot last season, because he’s a special player. I’m happy he’s here, happy for the club. When nobody knew him or nobody talked about him, the club were there and said, ‘He can help us’.”