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MICAH RICHARDS: Kevin De Bruyne is special but he’s not at Yaya Toure or David Silva’s level… yet!

It was a privilege to be in Molineux on Wednesday. It had nothing to do with Manchester City being such a complete winner against Wolves, but with my love of football and seeing a world-class player perform at his best.

I knew from the minute the start that Kevin De Bruyne was in the mood to do something special. Yes, he scored four goals, but I’m sure if City had needed to win by eight, they would have finished with six. Pep Guardiola said that he was ‘beyond perfect’ and that was quite a description!

But this wasn’t just about his goals. It’s the little things you notice when you’re in a stadium, being able to see the big picture, that make the biggest impressions. De Bruyne fiercely pressures opponents and won’t let them breathe, getting into small pockets and causing chaos.

Kevin De Bruyne put in a magical performance after scoring four goals for Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne put in a magical performance after scoring four goals for Manchester City

Playmaker De Bruyne (left) almost single-handedly helped City place a hand on the title

Playmaker De Bruyne (left) almost single-handedly helped City place a hand on the title

This was magical and he is a huge reason why City have a hand in the Premier League trophy. But is he the best player in the club’s modern history? I don’t think so. I’ve heard the arguments as to why people think that’s the case, but I respectfully disagree with them. I’ll explain.

As good as Kevin is, he doesn’t beat Yaya Toure or David Silva. There may come a day in the future where he overtakes them, the chance to do so would be if he leads City to a first Champions League win, but he’s not there yet.

When Yaya and David arrived in the summer of 2010, it was the first opportunity I had to work with world-class players on a daily basis. Yaya had won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2009, David had just helped Spain win the World Cup in South Africa.

It was the little things they did that set them apart. If you ever participated in a rondo session with them, the small game that involves one touch passes could literally keep you chasing shadows for two or three minutes. His control was impeccable, his use of the ball perfect.

She has not yet reached the level of Yaya Toure (pictured), who amazed with her skill and ability.

She has not yet reached the level of Yaya Toure (pictured), who amazed with her skill and ability.

Yaya is often classified as a force of nature, due to her size and power, but her skill and the things she could do with a ball would blow your mind. It was an education to watch, to see how he handled situations and the ability he had to take a game apart.

David was the same, in terms of the magic he possessed. We used to have a tactic that Roberto Mancini worked on that I, as a right back, was superior to. He ran from outside to inside, to get the ball out and put it in the area.

Not once with David did I have to yell where I wanted the ball. He instinctively knew what to do, the weight to play and when he would get into position.

Things happen so fast in a game, but I often need one touch to control, one second to look up, and then another second to pass.

With David and Yaya everything happened immediately. David had a picture in his mind about the game, almost as if he could see into the future. You know you’re in the presence of greatness when a teammate makes you go ‘wow’ and these two did it almost daily.

David Silva has yet to be usurped, with the diminutive midfielder the catalyst for City's success.

David Silva has yet to be usurped, with the diminutive midfielder the catalyst for City’s success.

There was, of course, more than just skill. They came to Manchester at a time when we weren’t the best team in the city, let alone the country, but they were the catalyst for all the success that followed.

Yaya scored the winning goals in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final and final, to give us our first trophy in 35 years. When we brought the league back in 2013-14 he scored 20 goals and provided nine assists. He almost overlooked how good he was during that season: He was unstoppable.

Guardiola worked with Yaya and David at City, David made his presence felt in the 2017-18 ‘Centurions’ squad, but it would have been fascinating to see how good they would have been in the current team in their prime. Both would have been certain headlines.

Yes, there are things Kevin does better than Yaya and David: his relentless pressure against the Wolves and the way he sets the tone breathlessly wouldn’t be a strong suit of any of my former teammates, and his numbers (15 goals, seven assists in the Premier League) are not far behind Yaya since 2014.

De Bruyne outclasses both Toure and Silva in some areas, and could still rise even higher.

De Bruyne outclasses both Toure and Silva in some areas, and could still rise even higher.

This has not been Kevin’s best season. Yes, his form over the last month has been outstanding, but few would argue that Bernardo Silva, throughout the campaign, has been City’s most consistent midfielder.

Kevin may elevate himself, who knows, he might do so in Istanbul in the Champions League final next year, but he doesn’t have the label ‘the best of the modern era’ and I use that phrase, once again, for a very specific reason.

We’re stuck in the here and now, but in terms of the greatest player in town of all time, I’ll just say that Colin Bell, God bless his soul, is the only man who has a stand named after him. He won a European trophy and helped City win a title.

He set the standards that others have yet to reach – we get to enjoy watching Kevin rise to the challenge.

I’M CONCERNED ABOUT LEEDS…

My heart says that Leeds will stay in the Premier League.

I have not said at any point this season that my hometown club will be relegated, but my concerns are huge right now and what worries me most ahead of the final week of the campaign is their discipline, or lack thereof.

Elland Road is a stadium that feeds on emotion, but Dan James’s challenge to Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic on Wednesday was a poor one, and that it came so soon after Luke Ayling’s aberration against Arsenal really set off alarm bells.

The best teams play with ice in their veins, but Leeds have simply been too reckless recently.

I still believe there will be a turn in the relegation fight but, whatever happens from here, the fact that Leeds have collected 100 cards and counting this season is not acceptable. Whatever division they’re in next season, it can’t be repeated.

Leeds are too reckless in their relegation scrap and whatever division they're in they can't repeat it

Leeds are too reckless in their relegation scrap and whatever division they’re in they can’t repeat it

THE REAR PARTS MAKE BATTLE

There will be so many subplots in the FA Cup final on Saturday afternoon, but the one I’m most looking forward to is seeing how Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James influence the game.

These are the times you want to see top talent produce.

Along with Kyle Walker, the way these right-backs play football has transformed what we expect from men in their position.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (pictured) and Reece James may help influence Saturday's FA Cup final

Trent Alexander-Arnold (pictured) and Reece James may help influence Saturday’s FA Cup final

MICAH’S MAN OF THE WEEK

Could it be someone else other than Erling Haaland?

What a coup – there is no other way to look at what Manchester City have done by signing the Norwegian striker.

The price tag, £51m, is quite remarkable for a player who could become the best striker in the world. It’s an amazing business.

I call it a hit because, at £51m, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich – and others in the Premier League – could have afforded it. He chose City and it is a sign of where the club is.

I’m not going to call Haaland ‘the missing link’ and I won’t push him by saying he’s what City need to conquer Europe, but I’m fascinated by the prospect of seeing him develop under Pep Guardiola.

Big, powerful strikers don’t usually fit into Guardiola’s systems (think Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Barcelona) and I want to see how Haaland will put pressure on defenders and what his link game will be like. Give it time and, if all goes well, it will bloom.

City have made an impressive move by signing Erling Haaland and in time it will flourish.

City have made an impressive move by signing Erling Haaland and in time it will flourish.

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