Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has never seen a playmaker like Kevin De Bruyne before. The 28-year-old impressed at Wolfsburg after failing to break into the Chelsea first team but it is at Manchester City that he has truly blossomed into one of the best players in the game. Injuries saw him short of his best last season after scheming the Blues to a league-and-cup double and Belgium to a World Cup bronze in 2018, but De Bruyne has looked on another level this year with more than twice the number of Premier League assists (nine) than any other player after Saturday’s controversial incident . Martinez has worked closely with the player for three years and has used him in a number of different positions on the pitch from holding midfield to false nine; De Bruyne has also been tried in a deeper role under Pep Guardiola after playing there under the former Wigan boss. Belgium’s coach does not see anybody else in football with the ability to change the tempo as the City playmaker does, and also finds his blend of technical with physical skills unique.
“It’s difficult to give a proper description of his talent,” he told Sky Sports. “I’ve never worked with a playmaker that can work at a faster pace than the game. Any playmaker we’re used to seeing a player that slows the tempo down and gets two seconds to think, two seconds to find that pass. “Kevin De Bruyne sees the pass even before any spectators see it. That is a dynamic playmaking that he has. There’s not another player in world football in front of him that has that precision and execution – every ball in the box is exactly the same level of precision. City’s moves are never into feet, they are always into space, they know where the ball is going to go. I feel Kevin with his intensity is a unique playmaker. “He doesn’t work in systems, he works in space and he’s got that ability to turn in any space and execute a pass. technically he’s so gifted. Normally you get gifted players technically but it doesn’t go along with that physicality and intensity. I’ve never seen a player that can execute passes in transitions on any counter-attack like, his precision is immaculate. The uniqueness is to have that physicality and the technical ability.”