Football: Enter the $119m EPL 'game-changer' Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne's stock has been rising in recent seasons after an outstanding stint at German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, which saw him chalk up 20 goals and 33 assists from 72 matches in all competitions.
Kevin de Bruyne's stock has been rising in recent seasons after an outstanding stint at German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, which saw him chalk up 20 goals and 33 assists from 72 matches in all competitions.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

De Bruyne to add attacking options to City as Navas, Nasri fall further down pecking order

LONDON • Kevin de Bruyne became the second-most expensive player in British football history on Sunday after finally completing a club-record £54.84 million (S$119 million) move to Manchester City, and immediately insisted that there were "no excuses" not to succeed at the Etihad Stadium.

"I want to reach the highest level possible as a player and I think the most important thing is that at the end of the season we can be happy and maybe have some titles," he said. "You have no excuses not to do well here because you have everything."

The Belgium midfielder turned down offers from Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain to sign a six-year deal with City worth up to £225,000 a week with bonuses.

His transfer from Wolfsburg smashed the German Bundesliga's record and made him Britain's most costly player after Angel di Maria, who joined Manchester United in a £59.7 million move from Real Madrid last summer.

De Bruyne's fee is also more than three times the £16.7 million the Bundesliga side paid Chelsea for the player only 20 months ago.

PRIMED FOR SUCCESS

I want to reach the highest level possible as a player... You have no excuses not to do well here because you have everything.

KEVIN DE BRUYNE Manchester City's new signing

STAR QUALITY

Over the course of the season that's ultimately what you pay for - more goals, more assists, he's just got something special. He's a game-changer, definitely.

VINCENT KOMPANY City captain lavishing praise on de Bruyne

There have been questions as to whether City overpaid for de Bruyne, who made just two league starts during his two-year stint at Stamford Bridge.

"It will be interesting to see if he really is worth it," said Sky pundit and former Germany captain Stefan Effenberg .

Yet, the 24-year-old has forged a reputation as one of Europe's most creative midfielders with 20 goals and 33 assists from 72 appearances in all competitions for Wolfsburg.

He was named German Footballer of the Year last season as Wolfsburg won the German Cup and finished runners-up to Bayern in the Bundesliga.

And while some critics will argue that the English Premier League is a much more competitive league than the Bundesliga, de Bruyne has done damage against European giants like Bayern.

A brilliant display in January against Pep Guardiola's men saw him score twice and set up another as Wolfsburg won 4-1.

City skipper Vincent Kompany has no doubt de Bruyne will prove his worth.

"He's a tremendous talent," said de Bruyne's Belgium international team-mate. "He's just got so many assists and goals in him, he's always making decisive plays.

"Over the course of the season that's ultimately what you pay for - more goals, more assists, he's just got something special. He's a game-changer, definitely."

De Bruyne can play anywhere in the frontline and his versatility was no doubt an attraction for City.

But he has been most lethal as a No. 10, as proven during his productive campaign last season. David Silva, however, occupies that role at City, and also plays his best football in the central role.

City's perfect start of four wins has been in part due to the Spaniard's form. As such, de Bruyne is likely to be deployed on the right side of an attacking trio behind Sergio Aguero, with Raheem Sterling on the left.

Jesus Navas offers more natural width and defensive cover but is likely to be the one sacrificed from the starting XI, while Samir Nasri slips further down the pecking order.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini said: "It takes a special footballer to improve our squad and I have no doubt that Kevin is one of those.

"He has all of the mental, physical, tactical and technical attributes required to fit straight in.

"We like to play attractive, attacking football and bringing in a player like de Bruyne will only aid us as we fight on four fronts."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'Enter the $119m 'game-changer''. Print Edition | Subscribe