“It’s normal that clubs like Manchester United are interested in top players. That’s an acknowledgement for his and our work.”
These are the words of former Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne’s coach at Wolfsburg, Dieter Hecking. So it would seem that United are indeed tracking another final third star despite their mega spend on Angel di Maria, and even though Louis van Gaal has options at his disposal, it’s fair to say there is good reason for the interest. De Bruyne has been one of the stars of the Bundesliga so far this season, justifying his club’s decision to pay Chelsea big bucks for his signature, while simultaneously making his former employers – who are now on the looking out for a right-sided forward – look a little dumb.
So, should United move for the Belgian? We think a swoop could be wise, and here are FIVE reasons why…
Although the statistics are not directly comparable (De Bruyne’s outings have been in German football, not the Premier League), the Belgian comes out on top in terms of creativity when compared to United’s current crop of attacking midfielders – Juan Mata, Angel di Maria and Wayne Rooney. The 23-year-old boasts 10 assists (more than Di Maria and Mata combined) and has created a far greater level of chances thanks to his superior count of key passes. In terms of goal-getting he’s not as prolific as any of United’s options, yet he does boast a greater shot accuracy score (56%) despite registering more shots. He is also better at taking on opponents, coming out with the ball over 60% of the time.
At 23, De Bruyne has time on his side. At 29, Rooney is now entering the latter stages of his career, while Mata and Di Maria, both 26, are in their peak, meaning that a future option could be appealing to United and Van Gaal. Adnan Januzaj is very much at the start of his playing days, yet his development has stagnated, while Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie, not direct competitors in terms of position, are also edging past their prime years.
While the bulk of De Bruyne’s minutes this term have come in the ‘No. 10’ role, the Belgium international is just as effective from either flank and has been used as a centre-forward – albeit just the once. With LVG known to be a manger that appreciates flexibility and tactical changes, such versatility could be a useful tool – especially with European football looking likely for next season.
While United are keen on De Bruyne, so to are Arsenal and Manchester City. Both sides are traditional rivals for the Red Devils, so seeing De Bruyne at the Emirates or the Etihad would surely come as a blow to Van Gaal. Although not the most sustainable approach, snapping up the former Genk man to prevent opponents from surging ahead may have its benefits.
Again not a justifiable factor alone, getting one over on Chelsea could be tempting for United as apart of the whole package. The Blues snapped up De Bruyne in January 2012, but then shipped him on just two years later with only a handful of minutes at the start of last season to his name for the west Londoners. Although they made money by selling him to Wolfsburg, the switch looks a little silly, with the silky attacking midfielder now shining in the German top flight. Should he come back to England, De Bruyne would surely have a point to prove to his old employers.