On Saturday at the Etihad, we saw Kevin de Bruyne at his very best. His three assists encapsulated all his greatest talents: lightning-quick decision making, unbelievable precision on his crosses, and a searing turn of pace in the middle and attacking thirds of the pitch. There is no question at this point that he has world-class quality, but what can he add to his trophy portfolio this year to be considered seriously in the Ballon d’Or race?
Bring Champions League Glory to Manchester
Club level is where the perennial Ballon d’Or winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi dominate. Thus, de Bruyne will need to prove that he can bring Manchester City to a level where they can compete with the most elite European clubs in Barcelona, Madrid, and also Turin, Munich, and Paris. De Bruyne will be well on his way to the top should he spearhead an impressive Champions League run in the following months.
Success In Russia 2018
But de Bruyne could truly elevate himself to Messi and Ronaldo’s level of legacy should he come away from this summer with a World Cup trophy. Belgium have a better team this year than they ever had in the past, with a starting eleven featuring Premier League superstars Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Toby Alderweireld. With tremendous quality from back-to-front, Belgium will surely have a chance to take home the World Cup, and de Bruyne could potentially play a central role in the summer’s campaign. Considering Messi and Ronaldo’s failure to win a World Cup, a victory in Russia would surely make de Bruyne stand out.
Dethroning Lionel and Cristiano
It will take a truly inspired year-long performance from any player to steal the Ballon d’Or from Messi or Ronaldo, who, combined, have won it every year since 2008. A tremendous track record and a consistent string of masterful performances from de Bruyne, however, has the potential to break that streak.