Wayne Rooney says Kevin De Bruyne is Manchester City’s greatest ‘weapon’ and has likened the midfielder to Premier League greats, Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs.
De Bruyne has enjoyed a sensational season for Pep Guardiola’s side and is the odds-on favourite to be named as the PFA Player of the Year, the midfielder having been at his creative best to equal Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in a single Premier League season.
The 29-year-old’s performances have seen him lauded as one of the world’s finest footballers and former England captain Rooney has lavished praise on the Belgium international, admitting the Man City midfielder reminds him of Gerrard and Giggs for his ability to play ‘the hard pass’.
“De Bruyne reminds me a bit of Steven Gerrard,” Rooney wrote in his column for the Times.
“He drifts out to that right-hand side and plays some brilliant balls whipped in, like Stevie used to. What I like most is he takes chances, he takes risks, he doesn’t go for the easy ball – he plays the hard pass.
“You watch, when he’s in possession in space other players start running and that’s the biggest compliment you can pay a midfielder.
Kevin de Bruyne ties Thierry Henry's Premier League record of 20 assists in a single season ✨ pic.twitter.com/r1fkNhBz8n
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“When I played with Ryan Giggs, and Giggsy got the ball, I made runs because I knew he’d try and find me, and if it came off he’d get me through on goal. De Bruyne is like that.
“Teams think they can force him to play it to the side but he can squeeze those passes through the smallest gaps.”
Rooney believes De Bruyne is key to Manchester City’s hopes of success as they prepare to resume their Champions League campaign against Real Madrid on Friday, recalling his own harrowing experience of playing against the brilliant Belgian who he believes is ‘one of the top three players in the world right now’.
“There’s no doubt Man City’s biggest weapon is De Bruyne, arguably one of the top three players in the world right now,” he said.
“Playing against him was never, ever, easy and I’ll always remember Everton using me and Morgan Schneiderlin, in a 4-4-2, against a City midfield of De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho, with Sterling dropping in.
“They absolutely outnumbered us. Me and Schneiderlin were in the middle of the pitch saying, ‘What’s going on here?!’ We were 3-0 down after 37 minutes and had 18 per cent possession in the game.”