We continue our series profiling City’s historic 2018/19 Fourmidables squad by looking at the impact of Kevin De Bruyne.
Squad number: 17
Total appearances: 32
Total goals: 6
Total assists: 11
Premier League appearances: 19
Premier League goals: 2
Premier League assists: 2
Total Premier League passes: 725
It proved to be a campaign bedeviled by injury for our influential Belgian who was cursed by bad luck after being laid low by several lengthy lay-offs.
So it’s a measure of De Bruyne’s quality, class and character that he still more than made his presence felt over the course of the season, making his own key contribution as City clinched an unprecedented English clean sweep of all four domestic trophies.
And his impact was arguably never more crucial than in our hard-fought 2-0 Premier League win over Cardiff at the Etihad in early April.
WATCH: City’s Ultimate trophy lift
Sandwiched between our Premier League win at Fulham and subsequent FA Cup semi-final triumph over Brighton, it was a tricky assignment with Neil Warnock’s side proving obdurate opponents with Bluebirds’ keeper Neil Etheridge in inspired form.
But with City needing a win to maintain our push to defend our league crown, De Bruyne produced a midfield masterclass and caped off a wonderful all-round display by rifling home a spectacular sixth minute opening goal from an acute angle.
A rueful De Bruyne later admitted that the strike had been somewhat fortuitous, but that admission couldn’t detract from the Belgian’s huge impact on the result.
Manager Pep Guardiola, for one,made no secret of his admiration for KDB’s impact in his post-match assessment.
“Of course, Kevin we miss him (when injured),” said the boss. “In the first 15 minutes there was incredible movement from him.”
De Bruyne had to overcome a series of formidable obstacles over the course of the season, the most challenging of which were a torn knee ligament and a second knee ligament setback, not to mention a muscular problem and a thigh injury.
After arguably being our stand-out performer in City’s record-breaking 2017/18 season, that succession of injuries meant it was a frustrating stop-start 2018/19 term.
It was a test not only of De Bruyne’s powers of recovery but also patience and resolve too as it seemed each time he was about to embark on a lengthy run in the side, his wretched luck with injury would strike again.
Yet De Bruyne dug deep to come back time and again to help aid the Club’s quest for success.
That was perfectly exemplified at the tail end of the season.
By his own admission, after being forced off with a hamstring problem during our 1-0 league win over Spurs in late April, De Bruyne initially thought his season was run.
However, after some reflection, he resolved to put body and soul into attempting to return in time for the denouement of a historic campaign and he did so with vengeance as illustrated by his stunning display in our 6-0 FA Cup final win over Watford.
After coming on as a second half substitute, KDB produced a masterclass in control and distribution and the 26-year-old rounded off a wonderful day with a deserved goal.
The thought of a fully-fit De Bruyne back in harness at the start of next season should fill every City fan’s hearts with anticipation and excitement.