With the new season barely eight games old, there are many people who are already tipping Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne for the Premier League Player of Season award.
City, though, have been impressive not simply because of one talented individual. In their most recent league game against Stoke, for example, eight outfield players were directly involved in either scoring or setting up goals for the league leaders.
There are, then, a number of players at the Manchester club who will be unlucky to miss out on the Player of the Season award simply because they are playing at the same club as Kevin De Bruyne. RealSport picks out the players who are currently being overshadowed by the Belgian midfield maestro.
Whilst Pep Guardiola's style of football generated its fair share of critics last season, it would be fair to say that many of the problems with Manchester City stemmed from the goalkeeping duo of Claudio Bravo and Willy Cabellero. Guardiola famously expects his goalkeepers to be good with their feet, a fact which left people bemused as Bravo in particular seemed constantly unable to kick a ball straight.
Since Ederson arrived at the club from Benfica in the summer, he has been a breath of fresh air in the Manchester City goal. In eight appearances this season, he has already kept four clean sheets, making an average of 1.13 saves per game. He is also making an average of 3 saves per goal which, compared with Bravo's 1.08 saves per goal, sets him well above the Spaniard.
It was his distribution, though, that brought the young Brazilian into the side and, with a distribution success of 87% in the Premier League so far, he is certainly earning his place on the team. That is a figure good enough to see him comfortably top of the table for goalkeeper distribution, a long way ahead of Simon Mignolet in second place on 78%.
Fernandinho is an often overlooked member of a Manchester City squad that is so full of exciting individuals that his role in a defensive midfield role seems to fade away into insignificance a little. With his tendency to split his central midfielders wide and invert his full backs, though, Pep Guardiola relies heavily on the former Shakhtar Donetsk player to protect the area in front of his central defenders.
For a team that is so often on the front foot, Fernandinho is involved in a lot of defensive actions, making 13 interceptions, 11 clearances and blocking 2 shots in the 7 Premier League appearances he has made so far. In the Champions League where Manchester City have already faced teams like Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli, Fernandinho has also made 8 clearances - the fourth highest in the competition.
The Brazilian is not simply effective in defensive positions, though, and likes to pitch in with goals for his team, particularly from distance - something he did recently in City's demolition of Stoke.
3 Gabriel Jesus
There is a case to be made that Sergio Aguero is the best striker in Premier League history. With his 176 goals and 54 assists for the club in the 19, 312 minutes that he has played for them, Aguero has a minutes per goal involvement of 83.97 - the lowest in Premier League history.
If this makes him a hard act to follow, Gabriel Jesus is going about succeeding him in the best way possible. This season, after 7 games, Jesus has scored 7 and assisted 1 in 480 minutes, giving him a minutes per goal involvement of 68.57. If he can keep this up for the next seven seasons, then the Brazilian youngster may be able to make the claim that he has superseded Aguero. But until then, he will continue to follow in the shadow of his South American counterpart.
4 David Silva
It is only in recent seasons that Kevin De Bruyne has surpassed the playmaking capabilities of his central midfield partner David Silva. For many, Silva is the stereotypical Hispanic number 10: small, agile, tricky with the ball and possessing an eye for the through ball. This season, the Spanish international has 6 assists to his name in the league - a figure that puts him ahead of De Bruyne's 5 for the season.
De Bruyne and Silva are entirely different players - the former a ball carrier with an unparalleled understanding of space and possessor of a perfect cross, the latter a chance creator using quick passing and flicks to open up a defence. As Silva is just as integral to the way Manchester City play, he may feel a little put out that De Bruyne is picking up all the plaudits this season.
5 Leroy Sane
When Leroy Sane arrived at Manchester City from the German side Schalke 04, he was quickly compared to his teammate Raheem Sterling. Both players are quick, with good feet, qualities that allow them to break into the box and cause nightmares for opposition defences.
There are, however, differences between them, with Sane prioritising his raw pace while Sterling using more guile on the ball to work his way into dangerous positions. The German is certainly more clinical in front of goal, although his six goals in all competitions this season - three less than Raheem Sterling's nine - would suggest otherwise.
Nevertheless, Sane has been instrumental in Manchester City's capacity to break teams down, getting into wide positions to drag defenders wide before running at them with pace. While he may not be up for Player of the Season, he will be a strong contender for Young Player of the Season.
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