Who has extra assists than Messi or Ronaldo? De Bruyne

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Kevin De Bruyne must be considered a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or if he can help deliver silverware to the club.

On three occasions, Lionel Messi lifted the golden trophy under Guardiola's stewardship of Barcelona.

Stuart Brennan wrote in his MEN article: "Only three things possibly stand between De Bruyne and glory this season - a dramatic loss of form, burn-out, or injury, the latter a problem with opposition players clearly targeting him".

Not in another: he had to wrestle the ball from Kevin de Bruyne. "He is not one game".

It will take a truly inspired year-long performance from any player to steal the Ballon d'Or from Messi or Ronaldo, who, combined, have won it every year since 2008.

The win extended City's Premier League lead to 16 points while Harry Kane netted again as Tottenham Hotspur beat north-London rivals Arsenal.

He said: "We arrive in a good way but we have to know the Champions League is another competition - it is completely different". De Bruyne will be well on his way to the top should he spearhead an impressive Champions League run in the following months.

Kane towered above the Arsenal defence to head home his 32nd goal of the season four minutes into the second half, as only some wayward finishing and stunning goalkeeping from Petr Cech saved the visitors from further embarrassment in front of a Premier League record crowd of 83,222 at Wembley.

"Since making his debut for Werder Bremen on loan from Chelsea in the summer of 2012, De Bruyne has completed a total of 77 assists - more than any player in Europe's top five leagues, including Lionel Messi on 76".

For City, the opportunity is there - if not to win it but at least to reach the final for the first time. "No doubt", Guardiola said.

Manchester City resume their European campaign in Switzerland tomorrow night against Basel looking to make it past the last 16 for only the second time.

Such was his quality on Saturday that even Sergio Aguero, a scorer of four goals against Leicester, threatened to be overshadowed.

Sergio Aguero scored four second-half goals to take the game beyond the Foxes, who went into the break all square after Jamie Vardy had cancelled out Raheem Sterling's early opener.

De Bruyne has moved to another level since being repositioned by Guardiola this season. "Every team in the world would love to have him", said Aguero, a beneficiary of his supply line. The Belgian is playing in a deeper central-midfield role, where he can influence games more with his passing, energy and reading of the game.

The Belgium worldwide has helped spearhead the Citizens' charge towards the Premier League title this season, with his seven goals and 14 assists helping the side to a 16-point lead atop the table. The club is also in both domestic cup competitions.

"It is unbelievable all that he is achieving, (I'm) so proud and happy he is in our side". I am playing this way because the team is playing this way. It makes it easier for me and them. "At the end, if you get an individual honour it is attractive".