It’s very early days but Kevin De Bruyne is currently the most-popular player in Dream Team World Cup.
40.6% of gaffers with provisional team have selected the brilliant Belgian despite the fact he’s the most-expensive asset in his position.
The 31-year-old has been assigned a price bracket of £6.5m – £7m and even if he ends up at the lower end of that range he’ll still be the most-costly midfielder in the game.
No football fan needs to be convinced of De Bruyne’s talent.
He is one of the greatest midfielders in Premier League history and among the very best of his generation on a global scale.
And while some supporters in Belgium have been frustrated by their national team’s inability to convert a golden generation of players into tournament glory, it can’t be said that De Bruyne hasn’t pulled his weight.
A veteran of 93 senior caps, he’s scored 25 goals and provided 46 assists on the international stage.
That breaks down further to a goal involvement every 104 minutes, an astonishing record for a career spanning 12 years.
It’s De Bruyne’s combination of style and substance that makes him such a formidable Dream Team asset – he passes the eye test every time and his stats are incredible too.
He’s currently the outright best midfielder in Dream Team’s classic Season game, by a comfortable distance too.
With 95 points to his name he’s got a 17-point cushion over his closest midfield rival, team-mate Phil Foden (£5.5m).
No doubt his current domestic and continental form for City has contributed to his sizeable Dream Team World Cup ownership.
He’s already running away with the Playmaker of the Year award having provided nine assists in the Premier League – nobody else has more than five.
Add in three Champions League assists and he boasts a tally of 12 in all competitions – an incredible tally for early November.
De Bruyne has also scored three goals, his most recent being the inch-perfect free-kick at Leicester that ensured Pep Guardiola’s side left with all three points.
And of course, he’s never far away from a Star Man award.
De Bruyne’s individual quality is not in question but Dream Team World Cup gaffers should also consider Belgium’s prospects as a collective when selecting their provisional teams.
Roberto Martinez’s men are set to face Canada, Morocco and Croatia in Group E – the bookies’ have them as favourites to the top the group ahead of Luka Modric’s mob.
However, it has to be said that Belgium are not as strong on paper as they were at the least two major tournaments.
Eden Hazard’s dramatic decline (caused by injury setbacks) has rendered the winger a shadow the player he was in 2018, when he was among the brightest stars on display in Russia.
Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea resulted in a significant drop-off in form among injury frustrations – although the hulking striker’s record of 68 goals in 102 international caps speaks for itself.
And perhaps most notably, their defence still relies on Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, two centre-backs whose best days are behind them.
Still, they have De Bruyne and that counts for plenty.
Acquiring the strawberry-blonde playmaker will take up a significant chunk of budget but Dream Team World Cup managers should ask themselves whether they can afford not to have in midfield?