Kevin De Bruyne is urging people not to judge him by his statistics.
The 25-year-old has scored five times and made 10 assists in his 32 appearances for Manchester City this season. That compares less favourably to his record for 2015-16, where he scored 16 times and assisted 12 times across his 41 matches.
But De Bruyne wants people to forget that and look at his overall importance into the team: “To be fair, I’m very happy,” the Belgian said ahead of the match with Monaco on Tuesday evening.
“I’ve played very constant. I think I played maybe a little more defensively than I did at the beginning of the season, but I think we also changed a lot of positions for me personally.”
The number 17 is reinforcing the point that it’s a team game and he’s only one part of how City play.
“I know people are looking at me with a lot of statistic, but in the end I think I’m playing better than I did last year. Maybe statistically [it’s] a little bit less, but I think as a player for the team that I’m doing better than last year.”
De Bruyne has been played deeper this season than in the previous campaign, with Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and one of Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus spearheading the attack in recent weeks. That’s left De Bruyne and fellow playmaker David Silva sitting further back, linking up with Yaya Toure pulling the strings in the middle.
The Belgian says scoring fewer goals this season hasn’t been a problem at all: “I never look at my stats,” he says. “I know that it’s very important for other people.
“I also think because I played lower [deeper] and not everybody’s seeing that, so they’re comparing that. But I can see very [well] how I’m playing for the team and I think we are now winning games even without me scoring.
“In the end, if we can have a title, then I will be very happy.”
Having played in a number of positions this season, De Bruyne says he doesn’t feel uncomfortable moving about the pitch and performing different roles for Guardiola’s side. Asked where he was enjoying playing the most, the midfielder laughed and said that it was “all the same with him”.
He said: “It changes, and I’ve no problem with it. I think I feel more comfortable with the way I’m playing in the position right now, but I know it will change one day again and I try to do my thing.
“I feels a little bit different because you have to do different things, [such as] more sprints on the side or more longer runs, but it just depends. It’s most difficult for the body to adapt sometimes to the playing style because you’re playing different roles.”
The Belgian has also heaped praise on his teammate Toure, who made a remarkable return to the starting line-up under Pep Guardiola after it had looked like he was to spend the final year of his contract in exile. The Ivorian’s form has been so crucial and his turnaround has been so sharp that there are rumours of a new deal in the offing at the end of the season.
“He has been unbelievable since the game he came back against Crystal Palace,” De Bruyne said. “He’s been there, he’s been looking very sharp, and he’s been doing really well.
“I think everybody knows how good Yaya is and I don’t even need to explain that.
“Obviously, last year was a little bit less and he wasn’t maybe that sharp, but I think we can all give him credit for coming back in the way that he’s been. I think he’s been doing really well.”
Written by David Mooney
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