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‘Totally Ballon d’Or material’: Euro 2020 boss thinks Man City star has an ‘incredible brain’

Roberto Martinez has told The Athletic that Kevin de Bruyne has played at a Ballon d’Or standard for Man City.

Martinez has sung the praises of the Belgian maestro ahead of Euro 2020 and noted what makes him so special. De Bruyne goes into the European Championship after helping Pep Guardiola’s Citizens win the Premier League and Carabao Cup.

The Etihad Stadium natives also reached their first Champions League final. De Bruyne offered three goals and four assists on route to the final in Porto. He penned six goals and 12 assists in the Premier League, as well, for returns of 10 and 18 in all competitions.

Photo by Alex Caparros – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is among the favourites to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or at the mid-year mark. The Frenchman turned in Man of the Match performances in both legs of the Blues’ Champions League semi-finals, plus the final itself.

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Kante will now look to add a European Championship to his 2018 World Cup to boost his claim to the award. But De Bruyne could have a big say in the matter, should he be fit, with Belgium boss Martinez aware of what makes the Man City midfielder tick.

“The player we see nowadays still has the incredible brain capable of breaking down defences,” Martinez said. “But he also does not play in systems, he plays to spaces and to the role he is given.

“He is producing incredible performances with Manchester City. To reach a Champions League final, his performances are totally Ballon d’Or material at the moment. He is a winner with high, high standards.”

Man City glory not enough for De Bruyne in Ballon d’Or race

De Bruyne was one of the stars of the season for Man City as Guardiola’s side dominated the Premier League. He was also named PFA Player of the Year and nominated for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year.

But domestic glory is likely not going to be enough for the 29-year-old to become the first Premier League player to win the Ballon d’Or since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008. The Portuguese, Lionel Messi and one-time Luka Modric have since locked the award away in Spain.

Modric ended Ronaldo and Messi’s dominance in 2018 after helping Real Madrid to a third-straight Champions League. He also helped Croatia reach their first World Cup final – and it will likely need Belgium winning their first Euros for De Bruyne to follow suit.

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