Last night provided another example of why Kevin De Bruyne’s valuation was what it was. The Belgian may have been introduced into the game late - and was also carried off before the end - but he is the principal reason why Manchester City woke up this morning in the league cup final.
De Bruyne doesn’t really do anything fancy; he beats players and he produces game-changing moments, but he is not a step-over merchant and neither is he reliant on tricks or flashy frills. Instead, he just seems to have a really good command of the game’s basics. His first-touch is very good, he typically makes a very pure contact with the ball when crossing or shooting, and he’s arguably as intelligent - and versatile - an attacking player as there currently is in the Premier League.
His goal last night - controversy aside - was very well-taken, but his personal highlight was the cross he provided for Sergio Aguero. That moment was Kevin De Bruyne - a simple facet of the game executed at an extraordinarily high level. It was a very fine header by Aguero and he converted the opportunity neatly, but look at this cross: note the angle it came from and the lack of space De Bruyne was working with, notice how little adjustment Aguero had to make to meet it, and watch what the action on the ball does to Leighton Baines - who, by the way, was in a pretty good starting position.
People who don’t like De Bruyne don’t like football.
— Seb Stafford-Bloor (@SebSB) January 27, 2016
“Just a cross” it may have been, but there’s a real pleasure to be found in seeing one of the game’s basics being performed at that sort of level.
£50m players don’t necessarily need to come with a range of circus tricks - and there’s no stronger testament to that than Kevin De Bruyne.