Where Does De Bruyne's Assists Tally This Season Rank Amongst the Greats?

De Bruyne's Majestic season

Manchester City are a well-oiled machine that is fueled by the genius of Pep Guardiola and other exceptional parts, but there is simply no greater to this beast than Kevin De Bruyne.

The Belgian midfielder, who flirted with greatness at Wolfsburg after he was sold by Chelsea, has established himself in Manchester as one of the elite talents in world football.

De Bruyne is largely considered the best midfielder in the world and he is having a season to prove just that. City may have lost the title to Liverpool, but they are still comfortably second and have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after beating Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu, in which De Bruyne put on a display for the ages.

The 29-year-old is having an exceptional season, but how does the playmaker compare against the assist kings of years gone by? We take a look at how De Bruyne looks amongst other great names who have had spectacular league campaigns with exemplary creativity.

At the time of writing, the Belgian has 19 Premier League assists in 2019/20, just one off Thierry Henry's record with a game to go.

Mesut Ozil - Arsenal 2015/16 (19 assists)

A FIFA World Cup winner with Germany, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has experienced a very inconsistent career in England, but the best season of his stay at the Emirates came in 2015/16, where Arsenal finished second. Ozil seemed destined to break the assist record in the Premier League, but due to a dip in form from himself and strikers such as Olivier Giroud, it wasn’t to be.

However, Ozil still had an exceptional campaign, registering 19 assists and operating as the heartbeat alongside Alexis Sanchez to the Gunners’ attack. His comparison to De Bruyne is more straight-forward, although Ozil was exceptional at cheeky flicks and short through balls, whilst Manchester City’s superstar is one simply one of the best passers we have ever seen, no matter the distance.

The German is level with the Belgian after his free kick was notched home by Aymeric Laporte against Watford this week. Plus, De Bruyne still has a league game left to play against bottom-placed Norwich City at home. In reality, the ex-Chelsea man could bag a hat-trick of assists if he likes.

To win the PFA Player of the Year 2019/20

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DE BRUYNE @ 5/6

Thierry Henry - Arsneal 2002/03 (20 assists)

Arguably the greatest player in Premier League history, Thierry Henry was one of the best in the world in both goalscoring and creating. Arsenal’s legendary forward registered a Premier League record of 20 assists during the 2002/03 season, which remains the division's record within one season to this day.

Henry also scored 24 goals that campaign and was, of course, more none for such feats, rather than helping out his teammates. As for De Bruyne, he knows what his role in the Manchester City team is, and he is outrageously good at it.

The Frenchman's goal involvements in the Premier League season of 2002/03 sits at 44 - only Luis Suarez's 48 in 2013/14 beats this margin. However, with Norwich up next at the Etihad, it could be a demolition job for City and the Belgian will do everything in his extraordinary power to beat Henry's record.

Xavi - Barcelona 2008/09 (20 assists)

One of the greatest midfielders of all-time, Xavi bossed Barcelona’s midfield as the club climbed to the top of the European ladder during his 17-year stay with the Spanish giants.

In terms of assists, Xavi’s best season in La Liga came in 2008/09 as he helped Barcelona become just the second team after Manchester United to win the Treble. During that La Liga campaign, Xavi registered 20 assists to set a record for the Spanish top flight.

De Bruyne should compare his play to Xavi more so than Henry, and the Belgian draws many comparisons to the Spanish legend thanks to their shared elite passing ability.

In this majestic campaign, Xavi scored six times, five less than De Bruyne in the Premier League this season. In truth, if the City star is getting close to numbers that Xavi pulled off, he's clearly one of the very, very best.

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Lionel Messi - Barcelona 2019/20 (20 assists)

It must be slightly irritating for De Bruyne, as the season he records his best tally, Lionel Messi and Muller both surpass him in their respective leagues. In reality, the 2019/20 campaign has been an incomparable season with assists, thanks to the likes of Messi, Muller and De Bruyne.

The all-time assists leader in La Liga is still operating at the top of world football and Messi recently became the first player in La Liga history to register 20 goals and 20 assists in a league season. And now, with his 21st assist of this Spanish top-flight season, the Argentine has overtaken his teammate Xavi for the most in one season.

De Bruyne’s tally of 11 league goals and 18 assists is truly impressive, and whilst he may just fall short of Messi’s statistics for the 2019/20 season, the fact that the Belgian is being recognised on a similar level to the Argentine is an honour in itself.

It has, however, been an utterly magical year for the Barcelona legend that just keeps on breaking records for goals and assists.

Thomas Muller - Bayern Munich 2019/20 (21 assists)

Concluding with another player to have an incredibly successful campaign this season, Bayern’s Thomas Muller broke the Bundesliga assist record within a single season of 19, with his 21 for the German giants.

This record, ironically, was held by De Bruyne at Wolfsburg, thanks to his 19 assists in the 2014/15 campaign. Now, Muller is getting one over on his playmaking nemesis, by surpassing his record then and now.

What has helped the German international an extraordinary amount is, of course, the goals from Robert Lewandowksi, who has hit 50 for this season with a Champions League campaign still yet to conclude.

It means that, in terms of league seasons, Muller stands alone with the most assists in a league campaign amongst Europe’s top leagues at a time when it looked as if he was nearing the end of his days at Bayern.

The creative midfielder has also scored eight times in a truly impressive year, especially so due to the fact that the Bundesliga is only 34 matches long – four less than the likes of La Liga and the Premier League.

By Andrew Gamble

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