Kevin De Bruyne would love to bring Pep Guardiola's football philosophy to Belgium. For him the knowledge and experience he has absorbed through his career, he feels he must share to strengthen football in his home nation.
Although becoming a coach was not what he had initially planned, the passion for the game and abundance of knowledge he has to share is too great for him not to consider the option.
De Bruyne shares with Guardiola an understanding of the game and a vision for football that could revolutionise Belgium.
Belgium’s national side in recent years has boasted one of the strongest starting line-ups in the world. Almost every position has been filled with a world class player. From Thibaut Courtois in goal, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in defence, to De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in midfield with Romalu Lukaku up top. On a good day, this Belgian side should beat any opposition.
But this Belgian side looks as if it has missed its opportunity for international success, with many great players gradually reaching the end of their careers. So where will the next crop of Belgian talent come from?
Players going into Management
Belgium’s domestic leagues are nowhere near the quality needed to produce the talent to replicate their powerhouse side of recent years. Many of these current players received a football education around some of Europe’s biggest clubs instead, Chelsea FC having the largest influence on the squad.
Vincent Kompany is the first of this talented crop of players to go into management and has settled in the Belgian topflight at R.S.C. Anderlecht with mixed results. It will only be a matter of time before others join him and maybe De Bruyne is next in line.
Arguably, De Bruyne is Belgium’s most talented and consistent player. Without the hampering of injuries, De Bruyne could sit comfortably amongst the best players in the world. With Manchester City he has won three Premier League titles, alongside many other domestic honours, receiving the PFA Player of the Year award in the last two seasons.
His time at the club has coincided with the rein of Pep Guardiola, who has been able to eke out every drop of quality from the Belgian midfielder, helping him become the best playmaker in the Premier League. Not only has Guardiola been able to utilise De Bruyne’s exceptional passing ability and game management but has also diversified the player’s talents, using him as a false 9 as well as in the heart of midfield.
Guardiola has revolutionised De Bruyne’s football career, and like Xavi, Thierry Henry and Kompany, has inspired the player to go into coaching. In a recent interview for the MID podcast, De Bruyne stated “When you have worked with a man like Guardiola, you look at this sport in a totally different way.”
De Bruyne admires Guardiola’s attacking football and passion for his style of play. The player stated that his manager is so passionate for his philosophy that he sometimes forgets to name the squad. He added: “We always have a meeting before a match and Guardiola will then say ‘we are going to do this and this and that. Let’s go!’
“And then we say: ‘Hey, Pep, who is playing?’ He forgets sometimes.
“For him winning is important. But his philosophy is even more important.
“Many people don’t understand this. Pep would rather lose with his football principles than get a win from counter attacking tactics.”
De Bruyne's nation may never reach the heights of his golden generation without the influence that the players currently in the Belgium team can have on the future of football.
Guardiola’s fluid possession-based football is not only exciting to watch but incredibly successful. It will be very exciting to see not only where De Bruyne takes it after his retirement but also how he brings his personality to it.
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