As the winner of this year’s Best Picture, Parasite director Bong Joon-ho clearly knows art when he sees it. That is perhaps why he is such a big fan of Kevin De Bruyne.
Asked about his dream dinner guests a few months ago, he said it would be Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese, South Korean former Olympic figure skater Yuna Kim, Jimmy Page from Led Zepellin – and the man from Manchester City.
For City fans, the victory over the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night must have been something from a feel-good Oscar nominee. It is easily their biggest Champions League evening and in the middle of it all was De Bruyne, the leading man and director, all in one.
Kevin De Bruyne played the lead when Manchester City fought to beat Real Madrid on Wednesday
He provided an assist and scored the winning goal from the spot on the Santiago Bernabeu
De Bruyne has become a symbol of the reign of Pep Guardiola on the Manchester City side
With Liverpool playing the Premier League, it was easy enough to forget how good the Belgian is. Madrid gave him the stage to demonstrate his class without putting those 22 points around his neck like an albatross.
That’s what he did. De Bruyne assisted the opener before scoring the winning goal from the spot. It was a striking representation of a striking player.
It suits a man who is thought to be somewhat shy and prefers to let his football talk. Sportsmail understands that when he was told about Bong’s interest in him, he was ridiculously flattered.
Those invitations can keep coming if he continues to offer screenings such as those on Wednesday. Even Real has felt the influence of De Bruyne – this year they are sending their youth team to the tournament that he is organizing in Belgium, the KDB Cup, for the first time.
De Bruyne takes a corner during his impressive performance against Real Madrid
To symbolize how much a positive De Bruyne is for football, Barcelona star Ansu Fati took advantage of a performance at the tournament a few years ago.
Back in City, he has become the symbol of this side. If Pep Guardiola doesn’t stay in the hotseat much longer, his spell will be determined by the majesty of De Bruyne and the player to whom he helped him develop.
Remember that when the Spaniard first appeared on Etihad, De Bruyne was a talented but somewhat under the radar winger. City had paid him £ 55 million, and his reputation in England was tarnished by the words “Chelsea Flop.” While he always impressed in their blue, Jose Mourinho threw him aside.
He struggled for playing time while he was with Chelsea and eventually left the London club
De Bruyne signed for City in a deal of £ 55 million, which at the time felt too expensive
But De Bruyne has made it clear that he was worth every cent that City paid for him
That first campaign, the price tag was a problem and it felt like they had paid too much. Then Guardiola came in and pushed it to the center. The manager’s view of his husband was clear from the start: “I think he is a special, excellent player. He makes everything.
“Without the ball he is the first hunter, and with the ball he is clear – he sees absolutely everything.”
He is an integral part of a party that has twice won the Premier League, breaking records along the way and has almost become a unique player in the division. He is a central midfielder who is ridiculously effective from the start and becomes an assist king.
It essentially gives him two jobs – crafting from the center of the park and filling in when Guardiola’s wings come in to flood the box. However, filling in can underestimate how brilliant those crosses are.
Guardiola moved De Bruyne from a winger to a central midfielder after he entered City
This season he has already scored 16 goals in the competition, with a record of 20 for a single campaign. Some of his balls in the box seem to defy physics and what a player is meant to see in the field.
Add to that that he has a rocket at the end of both feet and he is a sensationally effective player.
He is now probably undervalued at £ 55 million. It would be hard to imagine what it might be worth in the market.
Sportsmail columnist Jamie Redknapp suggested that he is recently the best player in the country. After his victory over West Ham on February 19, he said: “When he stands on the field, he stands head and shoulders above someone else. I didn’t think David Silva could be defeated, but Kevin De Bruyne takes it to a higher level.
De Bruyne was described as miles ahead of the rest of the competition by Jamie Redknapp
“It was as if he had a force field around him today – nobody was allowed to attack him. His steps are always so inviting and cut open the defense.
“It was also what he did without the ball – his all-round game now on a different level.
“He is not on the team of the year, but for me he is the player of the year. The contenders Virgil van Dijk – great season, Henderson – big fan, even (Sadio) Mane – but look at the figures of De Bruyne, (he) is miles ahead of the people around him.
“He’s the best player in the country right now.”
The 28-year-old is willing to stay in City amid the UEFA ban, Sportsmail understands
He proved that on Wednesday. The city may not have many of these nights in the near future, given the UEFA ban that applies to them. For the fans who traveled, it would have been prohibitive to see De Bruyne deliver such a display.
Equally positive has been the news that Sportsmail understands that De Bruyne is in the pack of City players who are willing to linger during the two-year ban.
Domestic issues will come to the fore at that time and De Bruyne has impressed them in recent weeks. He played against Leicester and collapsed against West Ham. In total, he has eight goals in the competition this season.
De Bruyne looks up at the gods in Santiago Bernabeu after his beautiful performance
Because it has been around for so long, it feels like it is older than it is, but at the age of 28 it may have another side to Europe when the ban is lifted from the city.
Before their absence of continental competition is felt, however, City hopes to perform against Real hints in the long term this season.
If they want to ram each other between now and the end of May, while going for their last chance at Champions League glory, there will be one star – that is, if De Bruyne can fit it in for dinner parties.
The midfielder with the man of the match award after the game against Real Madrid