Is Kevin De Bruyne a ‘must own’ FPL player?

Kevin De Bruyne has been argued by many pundits and fans as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. After an injury hit campaign last year – playing only 19 league matches – this season was always an interesting one to see if he could reach those levels again. From an FPL perspective, starting the season priced at £9.5m always looked a steal if that was to happen, especially in a world of premium midfielders.

De Bruyne stats

It’s safe to say that in the opening 4 gameweeks, De Bruyne has been one of the best players in this opening month. The Belgian has already racked up 5 assists and scored 1 goal coming in the 4-0 victory over Brighton in game week 4.

In FPL terms, De Bruyne has been consistently returning the points for managers. He is currently the second highest scoring midfielder with 36 points, only Sterling beating him on 37 points. His assists have been the main driving force in the points accumulation, but notably it is De Bruyne’s bonus point potential that has caught the eye. Already registering 6 bonus points, these have come in 3 of the 4 matches, highlighting how his game translates well with the bonus points system.

Historically, KDB has been somewhat of a bonus points magnet over his time in the Premier League. His two highest ever FPL scores (2016/17 & 2017/18) registered an incredible 33 and 25 bonus points.

After this brilliant start to the season, De Bruyne has had three price rises, now valued at £9.8m. His popularity has soared over each gameweek, starting gameweek 1 owned by 850,000 managers, now owned by over 1,900,000. Again, the familiar faces of Salah and Sterling the only players that are higher owned than the Belgian.

The Man City man has been producing some excellent returns, while the eye test has certainly been passed in every match. For the statisticians, these make for some tasty readings when we delve into the underlying stats.

  • Expected goals (xG): 1.26
  • Expected assits (xA): 2.98
  • Expected goals per 90 (xG90): 0.34
  • Expected assists per 90 (xA90): 0.80
  • Shots per 90 (sh90): 3.24
  • Key passes per 90 (kp90): 4.32

His stats highlight the dominance and attacking threat that he has shown in each of the 4 Premier League matches.

He leads the charts for both assists and expected assists, showing that his returns have the potential to continue in the long term. And while he has only scored 1 goal, he has the 5th best expected goal of any midfielder on 1.26. His shots and key pass volume indicate the attacking threat that he poses, indicating potential for both goals and assists. To put it in comparison, team-mate Sterling averaged 3.00 sh90 and 1.00 kp90. Meanwhile, Salah has averaged 3.33 sh90 and 2.31 kp90.

Priced significantly less than both premiums, De Bruyne is proving to be incredible FPL value at his £9.8m price. His stats are showing potential in both goal scoring and assists, however the historical data indicates a reliance on assists to accumulate points.

KDB’s most prolific season in front of goal came during the 2017/18 season, scoring 8 goals – 2 more than the previous campaign. Meanwhile, during the 2016/17 season he amassed an incredible 21 assists followed by 18 assists the next campaign.

Looking at his Premier League stats at Man City, it highlights the involvement De Bruyne has in creating goals for his team mates. Excluding this season, he averages 1 assist every 172 minutes, and 1 goal every 388 minutes. This doesn’t come as a surprise, already noting his incredible assist tallies over those 2 campaigns.

In comparison to Sterling, it can be argued that Sterling justifies his higher FPL price. He has averaged 1 league goal every 203 minutes and 1 assist every 200 minutes. The big gulf is the goals per minute, which was expected considering the attacking position Sterling operates under Pep.

De Bruyne 2019/20

One of the arguments for not owning De Bruyne was the potential of him playing deep in the Man City midfield. While it is true that he has operated in a deep position in some periods of matches, refining him to one single position would be an injustice.

His heat maps over the past 4 gameweeks highlight the variety of positions that he has been deployed:

v West Ham (A)

KDB v West Ham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v Spurs (H)

KDB v Spurs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v Bournemouth (A)

KDB v Bournemouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v Brighton (H)

KDB v Brighton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source: WhoScored.com)

The right side of the midfield is the most consistent position for the Belgian, where many of his wonderful assists over the years have come from. But it is clear that he is everywhere on the field, and while he has proved he can score from outside of the box, his heat maps show him in the box on multiple occasions.

Not only are the stats looking great for Kevin De Bruyne, the fixtures couldn’t be much better.

De Bruyne fixtures

4 of the next 7 fixtures for Man City are being played at home. Last season, Man City scored an average 3 goals per home league fixture, and this season have already scored 6 in 2 games.

With these upcoming fixtures, we see no reason why Man City won’t be continuing their goal scoring. Their next 2 matches are against Norwich – most goals conceded (10) – and Watford – 3rd most goals conceded (8).

Conclusion

Now the stats have been examined, it’s time to come to a verdict on whether De Bruyne should be on every manager’s mind. We think that he has showcased his FPL value over the past 4 gameweeks, but does this translate to ‘essential’ status?

If he hasn’t already reached this bracket, then we think he must be getting close. At £9.8m, De Bruyne is producing stats and output that a £11.0m + midfielder would be proud of. You only have to directly compare him to Sterling and Salah to see that he is operating at a similar/better level to both.

As mentioned, De Bruyne isn’t a 20-goal a season player, nor should managers expect him to become that this season. His historical data and current season data show the FPL points potential mainly lie in the assists.

The balance of raw talent, City playing style and set piece authority show no reason for these stats to decline. His current form of 9-points per game would see him finish the season on a FPL record 342 points. This clearly isn’t going to happen, so it’s worth noting that this early form isn’t sustainable across the course of the season.

While we don’t like to claim a player is ‘essential’, we do think that De Bruyne has the historical data, form, price and fixtures to be one of the best value players on the game. There is no doubt in our minds that his price will exceed £10m+, therefore the time to invest is now. Of course, tearing up your teams to fit one player isn’t always a good strategy, but we do think that he is worth the 4 or 8 point hit over the course of a season.

2019/20 FPL Guide

We have launched our free FPL Guide for the new season, packed full of tips and advice from both us and some of the biggest accounts in the FPL community.

The guide has been created for managers of all abilities and has been designed to teach managers how to become better at FPL.

To download your free guide, check it out here.