On current form, it’s hard to argue with his assessment.
De Bruyne tore Stoke City apart on Saturday as Manchester City won 7-2 and the Belgian racked up two assists and dictated the entire game from midfield.
[ MORE: KDB lauded by teammates, Pep, opponents ]
Speaking ahead of City’s clash with Napoli in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, Guardiola believes there is only one player who is ahead of his Belgian wizard.
“The best is just one. If you want Kevin to be considered one of the best he has to win titles. We are here to help him achieve that,” Guardiola said. “The best is just one, but he is one of the best. It would be a dream for me, I would love all the players – not just Kevin – to achieve the level of Messi. [But] I don’t want to put the pressure on Kevin’s shoulders.
“He is an amazing player. A humble guy, all his team-mates love him. He wants to play every game and fight until the end. But I don’t help him comparing to Messi. Messi is apart. He is a guy who scored 60 goals a season. I want to help Kevin all I can to get to the highest level possible. Many times in the past I hear ‘that guy’s like Messi, that guy’s like Messi, that guy’s like Messi’. It’s impossible.”
When you look at the top attacking talents (other than Messi) in the game right now, KDB is probably at or above the level of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Kylian Mbappe but of course they all score more goals than him because they play as strikers.
But is KDB really ready to be placed just behind Messi and ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo? That seems far-fetched, even for a Barcelona man like Pep Guardiola, to do.
De Bruyne has more assists (32) than any other Premier League player since he joined Manchester City in 2015 and he has been reinvented in a deeper, central role this season which allows him the freedom to roam wide and whip in dangerous crosses as well as drop deep and provide stunning assists like he did for Leroy Sane on Saturday for City’s sixth goal.
KDB is improving all the time at City, and especially under Guardiola, but he still has some way to go to start challenging for Ballon d’Or nominations.