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Is it not astoundingly obvious that Kevin De Bruyne is now the world’s third-best football player?

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Lionel Messi defies basic physics. The little Argentine is mesmerising; he is an alien sent from outer space to show us all how to properly play the beautiful game that is football. For years, Barcelona’s majestic No.10 has stolen headlines and dropped jaws worldwide; even now at the age of 32, he is indisputably the best player in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo has shared the stage with Messi for the previous 15 years and still continues to demonstrate his class with Juventus in Serie A, scoring 19 goals in all competitions for the Italian champions this time around.

Messi and Ronaldo are widely regarded as the best to have ever played the game, depending on who you ask, and the fact that we’ve been alive to witness them both ferociously try to outdo each other on a weekly basis for so many years is something we should all be exceptionally grateful for. While the pair are still very much deemed to be head and shoulders above anyone else - despite Ronaldo turning 35 earlier this month - there is an interesting debate to be had regarding who the next best player may now be. 

Many would argue Neymar’s case. The Brazilian trickster divides opinion among fans due to the way he plays the game, but nobody can deny the fact that he is an outstanding player with supernatural-like capabilities. The 28-year-old left Barcelona and joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 as he was fed up of playing second fiddle to Messi at the Camp Nou, a move which was as surprising as it was disappointing to most, who felt as though he took the easy way out by joining a superior football club in a far from competitive league.

Unsurprisingly, Neymar has been a success at the Parc des Princes - notching 66 goals and 39 assists in 76 appearances for the French titans - but it is difficult to truly measure his achievements considering the level of opposition he is facing each week. The same can be said about Kylian Mbappe, another one of PSG’s most influential players. The 20-year-old is undoubtedly the most promising footballer in the world and definitely among the best in the business, but the fact that he is yet to test himself in a stronger league does leave question marks surrounding his overall ability. 

With that said, the electric forward has already won the World Cup despite not even being old enough to drink alcohol in the United States (depressing), in turn proving that he can cut it against the best. Doing it on a weekly basis at club level is a totally different story, however. There is little doubt that Mbappe will probably take over Lionel Messi’s crown as the world's best football player in the not-so-distant future, but to fully be deserving of that title he simply must test himself in either Spain or England.

So if it is not Neymar, and not yet Mbappe, who is currently the third-best player in the world? Well, we’ve come to the conclusion that it is in fact Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City talisman is the full package, you see. Adept to playing as a box-to-box central midfielder as well as a creative No.10 just behind the striker, or out wide, the Belgian’s expansive talents boast a sprinkling of everything. He is arguably the best passer of a football around (possibly just edging Messi these days), while his absurdly accurate, pin-point crosses continue to amaze the common spectator whenever they are flashed across various penalty areas, in an almost-offensively blasé manner. It is all just so effortless for the 28-year-old, dubbed the “Ginger Pelé” by City fans, for obvious reasons.

In his 205 appearances for Manchester City, De Bruyne has yielded 48 goals and 84 assists. This season alone, the former Chelsea ‘flop’ has provided 15 assists for his teammates in the Premier League - the same amount as last season’s top assistman Eden Hazard produced overall and it is only February. De Bruyne now ranks as number 20 in the Premier League’s list of all-time top assistmen with 61 - just 16 more will take him into the prestigious top 10, above the likes of Alan Shearer, Gareth Barry, Thierry Henry and Teddy Sheringham - four players with a considerably larger amount of PL appearances to their highly-respected names.

It is worth remembering that this season is only De Bruyne’s fifth full campaign in the Premier League and at 28, he still has plenty of years left in him at the very highest level. His current deal at City does not expire until 2023, meaning that he has at least three more years to improve on his already impressive top-flight statistics, potentially longer given the fact it is likely that he will soon be offered a contract extension at the Etihad. The Belgium international has already won all there is to be won in Manchester - barring the elusive Champions League, which you feel will be duly ticked off in the upcoming years - while he has also been a consistent performer for his country, scoring 19 goals in 74 appearances for the Red Devils.

De Bruyne has won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup once, the League Cup three times (most likely four by the end of the month) and the Belgian first division way back at the beginning of his career with KRC Genk. He was also crowned Germany’s footballer of the year back in 2015, after he scored 16 goals and turned provider for a further 28 (twenty-eight) during his last season with Wolfsburg, before moving to Manchester City for just under £70m.

International accolades and success in the Champions League is all that is left for De Bruyne to tick off in his quest to - quite literally - complete football, and you feel that both will come sooner rather than later. The Drongen-born playmaker is a genius within his trade, a master craftsman of goals and assists who pays his sport its ultimate respect each week with his continuously mind-boggling displays of accuracy and sheer brilliance. Not to mention he does it in the world’s strongest league, at an alarmingly consistent rate. For that, is it not now astoundingly obvious that Kevin De Bruyne (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkɛvɪn də ˈbrœynə]; born 28 June 1991) is the third-best football player on this planet we call home? 

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