The engine to Pep Guardiola’s machine, Kevin De Bruyne was recently granted a new contract at Manchester City.

The Etihad star had been in talks with the club for quite some time over a new deal to reward him for his incredible form, and with that now done and over with, the midfielder can focus solely on the pitch.

The Belgian is enjoying another fine season in a Manchester City shirt, scoring eight goals and assisting another 16 in all competitions this season, and some see him as a front runner for the Ballon d’Or.

Among those is George Grün, a former centre-back who spent most of his career with Anderlecht, picking up 77 caps for the Belgium national team between 1984 and his retirement in 1997.

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Speaking to RTL, he said: “There are obviously a few candidates for the next Ballon d’Or: Benzema, Lewandowski, Mbappé and of course Kevin De Bruyne. We’ll have to see who wins the Champions League or the Euros, but I make De Bruyne my favourite for the individual trophy. He’s simply at the top of his art. Of course, he doesn’t score as many as the competition, but Kevin is the one who makes Manchester City play.

“He’s the brain, and City play the most beautiful game in Europe right now… At club level, De Bruyne is on course for four trophies. Everything will indeed be decided with the Champions League and Euros finals, but right now, for me, De Bruyne is above all the others”.

In a year when the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been unable to help their teams dominate as much as they once did (although we say that very loosely when taking their goalscoring records into account), the door has been opened for other players to win the Ballon d’Or.

With this being the first edition of the trophy since 2019, there will be a lot of anticipation ahead of the award, and perhaps we’ll get a repeat of 2018, when Luka Modrić, a midfielder not known for his proficiency in front of goal, was declared the winner.