During a Premier League TV discussion on the competition’s best passers, former Liverpool and Manchester United striker Michael Owen placed De Bruyne’s creative passing abilities ahead of legends David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, and up there with Paul Scholes.
When comparing the four players Owen said: “Beckham was a pure striker of the ball. He obviously mastered a great whip on his dead balls but he had that long-range fizz as well.
“Of course he could see a pass. His vision I’d say, was decent, and weight of pass, good. Great clean striker of the ball, but I wouldn’t say he had the vision or the ability of De Bruyne.”
Kevin De Bruyne has now assisted 7 goals in his last 7 games for Man City in all competitions.
He just can't stop assisting. pic.twitter.com/tEz6gtmmkk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 13, 2018
On Scholes, the former Liverpool and Man Utd striker said: “Scholes had great vision, as well, not only could he play a ball but he had great vision. Giggs was the same, [but] probably didn’t have the long-range ping in his locker as a Beckham or a Scholes, but he had unbelievable vision.”
Owen Hargreaves agreed with much of what Owen had to say, but he didn’t commit to an answer on who was the best: “Scholes had a sat-nav in his foot he could just pick people out.
“I think De Bruyne is the best in terms of passing form. Scholes was a better passer over short distances and had the ping. Giggs was a winger-turned-midfielder, [had] one of the best killer passers, and Becks was the greatest long-range passer I’ve ever seen.”
Hargreaves added that for De Bruyne “to be in that company already just shows how great he is performing.”
Their opinions have sparked a lively debate on Facebook, with many disagreeing with the former England stars.
Some objected to the fact the De Bruyne features in the conversation so early in his career.
Many also bemoaned the fact that other accomplished passers were not included in the conversation with Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil highlighted as being Europe’s leading playmaker with 45 assists under his belt since 2013/14.
How does De Bruyne really compare to the Premiership’s best passers?
If we are measuring this purely on assists, then De Bruyne is currently assisting at a higher rate than the Premier League’s all-time leader in assists, Ryan Giggs.
The 26-year-old Belgian has recorded 42 assists over the four seasons he has played in the Premier League; that’s an average assist-rate of 10.5 per season. Giggs managed 162 assists over an incredible career at Manchester United, but his average assist rate falls short of De Bruyne at around 7.7 assists per season.
However, whether De Bruyne has the longevity that Giggs enjoyed to equal or surpass the big numbers posted by the Welshman remains to be seen.
Moving on to those intangibles, Oldham-born Paul Scholes is revered worldwide as one of – if not the best – passers to ever play the game. Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez described Scholes as “the best central midfielder I’ve seen” and many other football commentators from around the world have celebrated the United legends unique abilities with the ball.
So, perhaps putting De Bruyne in this conversation is premature, but if the City star continues to play at the same standard over the next ten years then Michael Owen’s comment may prove to be prescient.