Oooooooh, Kevin De Bruuuuyne, oooooooh Kevin De Bruuuuyne!
Could it be that Manchester City supporters have sung this ode to their superstar for the final time? Kevin De Bruyne has stepped up over the past couple of seasons to become arguably the best midfielder in the world, and his performances have been so influential that life without him must seem pretty stark for the Citizens.
But that nightmare may be morphing into reality for the Premier League champions, after the Belgium international admitted he may be forced to consider his immediate future should the club fail to overturn their two-year ban from European football.
Ok, time to panic.
It may seem selfish of the 28-year-old, or they could be construed as the actions of a typical football mercenary, but in the cold light of day, his reasoning is understandable. De Bruyne is currently playing at the peak of his powers and it would be a cruel waste for the football world to not witness him competing on the biggest stage for the next two years.
But with his current contract set to run until the end of June 2023, the Citizens are in no rush to accept any insufficient bids for their talisman. So if you’re planning on snatching the jewel from their crown, you’re gonna be paying the big bucks.
But which teams could realistically afford to sign De Bruyne, and who are the most likely to lure him away from the Etihad Stadium?
Realistically, there aren’t many options for De Bruyne to choose from within the bubble of the Premier League. A move across Manchester to rivals Manchester United is unthinkable, and the rest of the division is so far behind the Citizens that it’d be a huge backwards step in his career.
That is, apart from Liverpool, of course. The Reds are 25 points better off than the current league champions, and they have a mountain of experience in winning European trophies – which is exactly what De Bruyne craves. The Belgian star would improve that Liverpool midfield, and with him supplying their deadly trio in attack the Merseyside club would take some serious stopping.
You can wake up from this nightmare now, City fans.
And straight into the next hellhole for you. De Bruyne was the star of the show as City dominated and dismantled Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 this year, humbling the Spanish giants in their own back yard.
But what if that stellar display was nothing more than an audition, and he has landed himself the dream part of pulling on the famous white shirt of Los Blancos for the rest of his career? The Sky Blues’ incredible performance in Spain highlighted just what was missing from that Madrid side, and De Bruyne could easily be the man to restore Los Merengues to their former glories.
A dream move for any player.
Since abandoning their sensible approach in the transfer window by splashing €100m on Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus have got a taste for marquee signings. Matthijs de Ligt followed Ronaldo to Turin the following summer and I Bianconeri are constantly linked with a return for Red Devil Paul Pogba to spice up their midfield.
But could their plans have shifted following De Bruyne’s worrying admission? The Old Lady is desperate for a dollop of creativity, drive and brilliance in the centre of the pitch, and obviously the City star would tick all of the above boxes and more. The maestro could be the missing piece in the jigsaw to end their long drought without a Champions League trophy.
If you’re desperate to win the Champions League, then pledging your future to Europe’s biggest bottlers probably isn’t the smartest move. Paris Saint-Germain have crashed out of the illustrious competition in humiliating fashion in recent years, but their victory over Borussia Dortmund this season could have marked a turning point in their history.
But we’ll never know. What we do know, however, is that adding De Bruyne to their ranks would make the Ligue 1 champions an outright favourite to lift the trophy, and he would offer the required balance and rhythm to make that midfield tick.
Bayern Munich have not reached their usual heights in recent years, but their flamboyant and devastating displays in the second half of this season suggest they could be on their way back to the top. The team is star-studded with brilliant footballers up and down the field, and the cohesion and style has returned to its fluid best.
So imagine the difference our super-human star would make to that midfield. De Bruyne has already shown he’d have no problems adapting to German football, having originally convinced City to lure him away from Wolfsburg with his incredible performances back in 2015.
The summer signing of De Bruyne would undoubtedly end the Bundesliga title race before it had even started.
Barcelona are in need of a bit of a rebuild in their midfield. Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic are destined to wave goodbye to Camp Nou this summer, while other central alternatives have failed to fill the giant shoes left behind by the irreplaceable Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
La Blaugrana may not be in the right financial position to splash endless amounts of cash on a brand new superstar, having already wasted over £100m on Philippe Coutinho and similar fees on the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann.
But De Bruyne is a guaranteed success and a safe horse to bet your future on. Having learned under Pep Guardiola for a number of years, could he be the man to extract the very best from Lionel Messi’s final years in Catalonia?