De Bruyne 2023: The sensational displays that won Manchester City's talisman a new deal
Kevin De Bruyne was rewarded for his stellar form at Manchester City with bumper five-year contract renewal from the Premier League leaders on Monday.
De Bruyne became City's record signing when he arrived from Wolfsburg in August 2015 and the 26-year-old Belgium international has since provided a handsome return on that £54million investment.
His 37 assists since moving to the Etihad Stadium are more than any other player in Europe's five big leagues over the same period, while he has also chipped in with 31 goals and dazzled on the Champions League stage.
Here, we look at the finest moments produced by a midfielder firmly in contention to sweep England's end-of-season awards when May comes around.
Towering over PSG – Manchester City 1 Paris Saint-Germain 0 (April 12, 2016)
De Bruyne instantly established himself as a vital member of Manuel Pellegrini's City team with four goals in his first five starts and an ankle ligament injury sustained during January's EFL Cup semi-final win over Everton proved damaging as their Premier League title challenge faded. The former Wolfsburg star had regained form and fitness by the time a Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain came around. A clinical opener with City under the cosh during the first leg set in motion a gripping 2-2 draw at the Parc des Princes and there was little to choose between the sides in the return until De Bruyne took aim from the edge of the box and sent the Etihad Stadium into raptures.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 12, 2016
Derby day hero – Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2 (September 10, 2016)
City hit the ground running during the early days of Pep Guardiola's tenure as De Bruyne adapted to a slightly deeper midfield role. Everything was perfectly in sync as he took centre stage in a memorable triumph across town at Old Trafford, latching on to Kelechi Iheanacho's flick on and opening the scoring before the Nigeria striker made it 2-0 when a De Bruyne shot came back off the post. Zlatan Ibrahimovic reduced the arrears but, as Claudio Bravo's erratic debut threatened to undermine City's hard work, De Bruyne roved brilliantly in a floating attacking role after the break and almost piled further misery upon United.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 10, 2016
Slaying Messi and company – Manchester City 3 Barcelona 1 (November 1, 2016)
De Bruyne's Old Trafford showing persuaded Guardiola to deploy him as a striker at Camp Nou – a move that backfired in a 4-0 loss as Bravo was sent off. In the return Champions League group game, Lionel Messi crafted a majestic opener. Barca coughed up an equaliser to Ilkay Gundogan, leaving De Bruyne to bend the game to his will – crashing in a free-kick after the break, while leaving the visitors' feted midfield overmatched and overrun time and again before setting in motion Gundogan's game-sealing third.
Happy return to Stamford Bridge – Chelsea 0 Manchester City 1 (September 30, 2017)
A frustrating spell at Chelsea yielded a mere two Premier League starts before De Bruyne pushed for a move to Wolfsburg. His fruitful time in the Bundesliga, where his efforts in 2014-15 saw him named Player of the Year, and subsequent brilliance for City showed this ambition was well founded. De Bruyne enjoyed a moment of sublime vindication at Stamford Bridge last September when he strode forward, exchanged passes with Gabriel Jesus and arrowed an unstoppable left-footed shot beyond Thibaut Courtois. In arguably City's best performance under Guardiola to date, De Bruyne was the standout and the matchwinner. He made the gulf between the reigning and would-be champions unexpectedly vast.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 30, 2017
Masterclass leads to seventh heaven – Manchester City 7 Stoke City 2 (October 14, 2017)
In the rare event of a team netting seven goals it is unusual to find supporters repeatedly chanting the name of a player who failed find the net. This is exactly what happened as City hammered Stoke earlier this season. Jesus (twice), Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva were all on target but it was creator-in-chief De Bruyne who captured the imagination and adoration. His reverse pass that allowed Sane to tee-up Sterling in the 19th minute was simply staggering, while there was a brutal efficiency to his assists for Jesus and Sane after Stoke had the temerity to get back to 3-2 – improbably perfect low crosses that begged to be converted. "They have De Bruyne who is head and shoulders above any player in the Premier League in my view… because of the way he can dictate and effect the game," said then-Stoke boss Mark Hughes.