Gary Neville: How Kevin De Bruyne compares to David Beckham and Steven Gerrard
Neville also explains how Man Utd 'nullified' Steven Gerrard and how teams could try to stop De Bruyne
Last Updated: 20/08/19 11:16am
Gary Neville lauded Kevin De Bruyne on Monday Night Football, calling the Manchester City playmaker "mesmerising" and comparing him to David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.
De Bruyne produced a man-of-the-match display on Saturday as City drew 2-2 with Tottenham at the Etihad.
The 28-year-old, who missed much of last season with injury, provided assists for both City goals with splendid crosses from the right side.
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'De Bruyne matches Beckham and Gerrard'
Former Manchester United and England midfielder Beckham is regarded as one of the best crossers in the history of the Premier League, while Gerrard was also renowned for his pin-point passing.
But Neville said De Bruyne is delivering the same quality as his former England team-mates.
"I like watching tactical games, close games, I have never really got over-awed by watching an individual but De Bruyne mesmerises me. He is the type of player that is so good, he is world class, and for the first hour on Saturday it was stunning.
"His positions are always good. David Beckham and Steven Gerrard are two of the best crossers I have seen on the right side in the Premier League. He matches them in terms of the quality he delivers - and that is high praise. He does things that they did just as well."
Neville also praised De Bruyne's intelligence.
For the opening goal he dropped back to receive the ball before crossing deep for Raheem Sterling to score. He then ran down the line for the second goal and crossed for Sergio Aguero to finish.
"On the first goal he drops back and then you are talking about the quality of the delivery and it is so special," said Neville.
"The second goal is slightly different. He has got people covering the drop back so he goes the other way. He is intelligent and the timing of his movement is perfect. You are never in doubt that his cross is going to go exactly where he should do.
"For about an hour on Saturday he was unplayable and it took me back to playing with the best crosser of the ball I played with - David Beckham.
"Teams ordinarily tucked in narrow and tight but that tactic never worked against Manchester United. You had to get out and close him down and make sure he couldn't get the ball out of his feet. Even from deep positions the crossing was out of this world.
"De Bruyne is repeating the level of quality and precision from that inside right channel that Beckham produced for United and that is not something I would see again in the Premier League for a long time."
How United stopped Gerrard
While Neville played alongside Beckham at club level, he came up against Gerrard on a number of occasions when Manchester United faced Liverpool.
Neville says the problems Gerrard caused meant Sir Alex Ferguson had to change United's tactics.
"For about two or three seasons he was dropping into that right channel and we were defending conventionally. Then we changed and, if he could, Sir Alex Ferguson always put Anderson on the left of midfield and Ryan Giggs tucked in narrow.
"It didn't matter who was running wide, just make sure you are against Steven Gerrard. Don't go with the decoys and distractions - stay with Gerrard.
"For three or four years we stopped Gerrard and nullified him. We changed the way we played, and very rarely did Manchester United change the way we played for a team, but Gerrard made us do that."
How can teams stop De Bruyne?
Neville thinks the challenge now for teams is to stop De Bruyne getting space to cross from the right.
"I think it's getting to a point now where you cannot allow De Bruyne into this space on the right. You have to deal with the threat, which is De Bruyne. He is that good from that position.
"Teams started to do it against Beckham and would leave me. Exactly the same is happening at City and teams have to stop him by defending a bit unconventionally."
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