Belgium coach Roberto Martinez believes Kevin De Bruyne's performances at the World Cup have been under-appreciated.
The European outfit claimed wins in each of their Group G games to finish top, setting up a last-16 meeting with Japan on Monday.
While the likes of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku have starred, De Bruyne has played his role in midfield, contributing one assist in two games.
Martinez feels the Manchester City star has deserved more credit for Belgium's performances in Russia so far.
"I think Kevin De Bruyne has been underestimated in this World Cup so far," he said on Friday.
"When you're looking at his contribution in our team, it's one of those contributions that is a deciding contribution. He gels everything together.
"He allows the front players to be in great positions. He's essential in the way that we want to press and defend, defend quickly and defend high.
27 Happy B-Day ! June 28, 2018
"I think Kevin De Bruyne has been a top performer who hasn't been highlighted yet, and is essential for the way we want to play.
"Now he is 27, for two years he has been at an outstanding level, and probably in the last 16 months he has been at the highest level of his career. And I think he's brought those standards into our work in the national team.
"His influence has been, straight away, that of a demanding winner, which is essential in any football team."
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