Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has been awarded the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award for the 2020/21. While it was a quiet season for City in terms of honours, De Bruyne is cleaning up the individual accolades.

  • Manchester City Player of the Season
  • Manchester City Goal of the Season
  • UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season
  • PFA Premier League Team of the Year
  • Premier League Playmaker of the Season
  • Premier League Player of the Season
  • PFA Players’ Player of the Year

The only major individual award he failed to win was the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, losing out to Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.

Of course, Jordan was one of the first to take to twitter and congratulate the Belgian international in winning the PFA PotY award.

De Bruyne PFA PotY: Assist Record

We have previously highlighted on this site how much of an outlier De Bruyne is in terms of creativity for a central midfielder.

It is this creativity that underpinned his stunning season in which the 29-year-old registered twenty assists; seven more than the next nearest player – Trent Alexander-Arnold. De Bruyne also chipped in with thirteen goals from midfield.

This saw him level Thierry Henry’s assist record which has stood since the 2002/03 season. The player to have come closest since then is Mesut Özil, also of Arsenal, in 2015/16.

De Bruyne PFA PotY: Comparison to Ozil 2015/16

Mesut Özil Creativity Analysis: Shots created map for the 2015/16 season
Mesut Özil Creativity Analysis: Shots created map for the 2015/16 season

You can see that Özil created a higher volume of chances than De Bruyne. In total, he created 144 chances and played nearly three full games more than the Belgian.

Arsenal also relied much heavier on the creativity of the German international. Özil had nearly one-third (30.6%) of Arsenal’s assists in 2015/16.

Özil also relied heavier on set pieces than De Bruyne, with more than 28¨% of his expected assists (xA) coming from corners and free-kicks.

Kevin De Bruyne Creativity Analysis: Shots created map for the 2019/20 season
De Bruyne Creativity Analysis: Shots created map for the 2019/20 season

We can see on the map, De Bruyne’s chart is much busier inside the six-yard-box than Özil’s. He was literally serving his team tap-ins all season long.

The average quality of chance he created was higher, at 0.16 xA per chance compared to 0.12 xA for Özil.

Unlike the German, who overperformed his xA of 17.62, De Bruyne underperformed his xA of 20.96. This suggests he was a tad unlucky not to get one more.

De Bruyne PFA PotY: Creativity Analysis

One last thing to highlight from the data provided above. When looking at Kevin De Bruyne’s chanced created numbers split by time, it is noticeable how his impact drops in the final twenty minutes of games.

Whether this is a fitness issue, or simply taking his foot off when games are won, it is interesting to note he had just two assists last season after the 70th minutes of games. Or how he had zero in the final ten minutes plus injury time.

A glossary of all the terms used in this article and throughout the site as a whole is available here. Also, click on any image in the article for a full-size high definition version.

All data used in our articles is sourced from Understat, FBRef, Sofascore, Transfermarkt and 538.

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