City's new kid de Bruyne quick off the blocks, says Gary Lim
Belgian star holds all the aces in City's attack this season
LEICESTER CITY v MAN CITY
(Tomorrow, 3.45am, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
With a deft turn that resembled the Zinedine Zidane pirouette, and swiftly followed by a nutmeg on his marker, Kevin de Bruyne lifted the Etihad Stadium crowd to their feet.
In that moment of pure artistry in the 4-1 thumping of Sunderland on Boxing Day, the young Belgian announced his coming of age in the English Premier League.
Manchester City's Premier League challenge this season was expected to rest on the tried-and-tested pair of David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
But it is the new kid on the block who has been Man City's leader with his devastating efficiency and stamina.
That elegant performance on Saturday, when he scored a goal and set up two, was arguably his finest in a City shirt since he moved from Wolfsburg in a £54 million ($113.3m) deal four months ago.
De Bruyne is why Man City will go into tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) clash with EPL leaders Leicester City full of hope.
Victory will see them overtake the Foxes at the top on goal difference.
Another display as dazzling as the one last weekend will push the 24-year-old attacking midfielder a step closer towards the pantheon where football's finest reside.
De Bruyne is living proof that scoring goals and setting them up, in considerable quantities, are two qualities that need not be mutually exclusive.
To date, he has chalked up 10 goals and 10 assists (eight in the EPL) in 23 appearances in all competitions, making him Man City's top assist maker and goalscorer.
No player across Europe's top five leagues can match the 28 goals he has set up for his Wolfsburg and City teammates in the respective leagues since the start of the 2014/15 campaign.
When Man City splashed the cash to make him the second-most expensive player in British football history (behind Angel di Maria's fee of £59.7m paid by Man United last year) in August, it looked a huge gamble on a player who previously didn't make his mark at Chelsea.
Former Blues manager Jose Mourinho complained that de Bruyne did not have the right mentality to fight for a place in his team.
After making just nine competitive appearances for Chelsea in two years, he joined Wolfsburg for £18m in 2014.
There, he blossomed, scoring 10 goals and providing 20 assists in the league to be named best footballer in the German Bundesliga for the 2014/15 campaign.
Primarily used as the right-sided player in an attacking trio behind a lone striker at Man City, de Bruyne has impressed with his attacking repertoire.
A terrific crosser and dribbler, he complements his game with superb finishing to stand out as one of the most complete and dangerous players in the Premiership.
His durability though, is what sets the Belgium international apart from his more illustrious teammates.
As City manager Manuel Pellegrini frets over whether Aguero and Silva can get through the hectic festive schedule unscathed, de Bruyne will be the least of his worries.
Last season, he started in all of Wolfsburg's 34 Bundesliga matches to help them to the runners-up spot.
This term, he has appeared in every Man City game, including substitute appearances, since he made his debut for them in mid-September.
With each passing week, his influence at the Etihad grows.
De Bruyne is in the groove.
More and more, he is looking like Chelsea's costliest mistake.
I am not here to put on a show, i am here to win the game. if we can play in a good way that the fans enjoy, it’s even better.
— Man City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne insisting he’s a team player than an entertainer
They said that before Arsenal (game), but it is just three points if we win it and, if we lose it, we are still there. Everyone knows how quickly things change. We are at midway, so there are still a lot of points to gain or lose.
— De Bruyne on whether the clash with Leicester is the biggest game of the season for City
BY THE NUMBERS
Having notched two more assists in Manchester City's 4-1 victory over Sunderland on Boxing Day, Kevin de Bruyne took his season assist tally to eight in the Premier League - the highest for any City player and second to only Arsenal's Mesut Oezil (15) in the EPL.
Kevin de Bruyne has registered 28 league assists since the start of 2014/15, a feat achieved by no other player across Europe's top five leagues.