Kevin De Bruyne has surpassed expectations in his debut season at Manchester City, according to boss Manuel Pellegrini.
The Premier League club made De Bruyne their record signing last August after he scooped the Bundesliga’s Player of the Year award at Wolfsburg.
The Belgium international has comfortably dealt with the pressure attached to his weighty price tag by scoring 15 goals and providing 14 assists in City colours – making light of a previously fruitless spell in England with Chelsea.
“He didn’t get many chances at Chelsea but was outstanding at Wolfsburg,” Pellegrini told Marca.
“He may not be very expressive but then he impresses you with his analysis of the game. He plays well with the ball, scores goals, is versatile, can play in three or four positions and is very good technically.
“He may be a little too quick [rushed] at times but that’s only to be understood. That comes from playing German football which is very fast, although the English style is just as quick.
“I’m sure [he will] learn to slow things down as he is only 24. He has impressed us more than we thought he would.”
De Bruyne scored the decisive goal as City overcame Paris Saint-Germain to book at place in the Champions League semi-finals against Real Madrid.
Pellegrini spent a season in charge at Santiago Bernabeu, where he finished second in La Liga with a then club-record points total behind Barcelona in 2009-10.
He was dismissed at the end of the campaign and endured frosty dealings with the club’s board – a situation he insists is not reflected at City despite the decision to announce Pep Guardiola as his successor from 2016-17.
“I knew I was going to be fired from the moment I arrived, since the August,” he said.
“It had nothing to do with being beaten by Alcorcon in the Copa del Rey or being knocked out of the Champions League. With the directors, I didn’t have a good relationship, no.
“I have a very good relationship with the [City] owners, with [director of football] Txiki Begiristain and with [chief executive] Ferran Soriano. It is nothing like the situation with the Real Madrid directors.
“The club has always wanted to work with Guardiola, which is logical because of what he achieved at Barcelona. He was on the market and it seemed obvious that they would take him when he was free.”