Kevin De Bruyne will line up against Real Madrid in the Champions League this evening but Manchester City’s weapon was very close to becoming their enemy.
According to a report published by OK Diario - brought to our attention by Sport - Madrid considered signing the Belgian from Wolfsburg last summer but instead opted for Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovacic.
De Bruyne has become one of City’s most important players and it was his two goals in the Champions League quarter-final win over Paris Saint-Germain that sent Manuel Pellegrini’s side through to the last four.
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Needless to say, the Citizens are certainly not regretting their decision to sign the 24-year-old for roughly £55 million.
And the Premier League club have former Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez to thank.
The current Newcastle manager’s seven-month spell in the Spanish capital was filled with more lows than highs and Madristas will be regretting the day Benitez stamped his authority over Zinedine Zidane.
When planning their annual summer transfer splash, Zidane approached Madrid president Florentino Perez with De Bruyne’s name.
Yet Benitez managed to convince Perez that Kovacic was a better signing, and thus Madrid paid £25m for the Croatian.
KDB vs. Kova in numbers
Compare the two’s stats this season and it’s clear to see that Madrid messed up.
Kovacic, 21, has scored one goal in 11 starts for Zidane’s side. Meanwhile, De Bruyne has scored 15 goals, including the winner in the second leg clash against PSG earlier this month, and made nine assists for City.
Despite the £30m difference in signing fees, Perez must be sorry for the day he followed Benitez’s advice.
Raphael Varane highlighted the importance of De Bruyne when assessing City’s strengths ahead of their semi-final first leg meeting at the Etihad Stadium.
When asked about De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero’s importance, the French defender replied, per Sport: “They are the great talents of their team in attack but they have many more.”
The former Chelsea midfielder has been in dazzling form since returning from an injury and has taken some of the burden off of his Argentinian teammate.
If the two are on song, they will cause Madrid’s defence problems.
Pellegrini will be desperate to see his two main stars on fire because the Chilean knows full well that it will be difficult to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo and co. from scoring in either leg, even with the return of Vincent Kompany from a calf problem.
The Belgian defender, while attempting to stop Madrid’s ‘BBC’ attack, wants to see his compatriot stun Europe tonight.
“I hope De Bruyne has the best match of his career,” the imposing defender said, per Marca. “If we create chances, he will score."
The 30-year-old continued: “If we are at our top level we will be able to create those chances but we are playing one of the best clubs in footballing history so it will be tough."