Kevin De Bruyne is a 21-year-old Belgian international who started his career at KRC Genk. He is a Chelsea player who is currently on loan at Bundesliga side Werder Bremen. Capable of playing on either flank, the versatile young playmaker is most often deployed in the center of the park.
UPDATE: Kevin De Bruyne moved to Wolfsburg on a permanent transfer from Chelsea in January 2014.
On a day when Werder Bremen produced their best performance of the season to thrash Gladbach 4-0, De Bruyne was instrumental. Starting the game in a deeper central position, he was key to Werder’s ball retention and build up play.
He kept the ball moving and passed it very well throughout the game, showing excellent distribution abilities along with a ready willingness to get forward and join in attacks, from both central and wide areas. In the 3rd minute of the game, De Bruyne fired in a low and dangerous cross towards the near post. However the Gladbach defenders cleared this easily.
De Bruyne initially emerged as a winger, but his coach at Bremen, Thomas Schaaf chooses to play him in central midfield. This allows Bremen to utilize his technical ability to its fullest and control the game. His technical superiority as compared to the rest of the players on the pitch was clearly visible, with very few matching up to his standards on the ball. Apart from his technical excellence, his vision was also key to Bremen’s performance. Such excellent technical and mental qualities had a huge role to play in Werder enjoying 58% ball possession throughout the game.
De Bruyne is not afraid of shooting from distance either, with a powerful shot in the 26th minute serving as evidence. He also averages 1.6 shots per game, which is impressive for a central midfielder.
The highlight of the game as far as De Bruyne is concerned came in the 36th minute, when an accurate corner of his found his teammate Nils Peterson in the box. Peterson scored with his head, and De Bruyne got the assist, this being his 2nd assist in 8 league games this season.
In the 54th minute however, the Belgian made a poor tackle and got booked for it. This is an aspect of his game the Belgian needs to work on in order to improve his effectiveness as a central midfielder.
Another attention catching moment that De Bruyne provided was in the 80th minute, when he went on a mazy dribbling run past the Gladbach defence and midfield, and delivered another dangerous cross that was cleared by Alejandro Dominguez.
All in all, the Belgian had a good game, and impacted Werder’s performance positively.
Set-Pieces: Kevin De Bruyne is definitely very effective from dead ball situations. His assist for Peterson’s goal came from the corner, and he has also scored a free kick this season in the defeat to Hannover. His delivery is very accurate, and comes at a very good speed with a lot of movement. Such set pieces are always very difficult for keepers and defenders to deal with, and potentially cause a lot of confusion in the defensive ranks of a team.
Dribbling: Whether on the wings, or through the center, De Bruyne is an excellent dribbler with the ball. Executing an average of 3 successful dribbles a match while playing primarily through the center is a commendable feat. Such direct running at defenders through the middle can wreak havoc. Such dribbling, combined with his shooting and passing ability make him a deadly attacker. He is his teams top scorer so far this season with 3 goals.
Passing and Vision: De Bruyne’s greatest strength is undoubtedly his passing ability. De Bruyne complements his ability on the ball with superb vision. He’s a player who always has his head up, and is searching for a good pass. His range isn’t just confined to short passes, his long passing is also very accurate, with only 1 misplaced long pass against Gladbach and an average of 4.6 successful long passes per game. This is why he creates a lot of chances for his teammates, resulting in him garnering 2 assists so far this season, joint highest in his team.
Influence: De Bruyne is a very influential player for Werder Bremen. He may be regarded as their primary playmaker, and the rest of the team look to him to start off attacks. The young Belgian has completed more passes than any of his teammates, with 387. he also has the joint highest number of assists and takes responsibility from set piece situations.
Defending: The role of the central midfielder encompasses both attacking and defending duties. While he carries out his duties in attack with aplomb, De Bruyne falls short defensively. He is a poor tackler, and was booked for a bad challenge against Gladbach. His heading skills don’t stand out either, and this tends to be exploited when he’s defending set-pieces, with a lot aimed at his zone. Aside from his tackling and heading, his defensive reading of the game is not very good either. He has made 2 interceptions in his 8 games this season. He must work hard on this aspect of his game in order to establish himself as a permanent part of the team at Chelsea, where he will return next season.
De Bruyne is currently on loan at Werder Bremen from European Champions Chelsea. There seems to be no hope for Werder to make this deal permanent though, with the West Londoners seemingly keen on having him back next season, where he will have 4 years left on his current contract.
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Featured image via eplindex.com. Stats via whoscored.com