Kevin De Bruyne: top of the class in more ways than one

Cologne - In a game where goals tend to do all the talking, VfL Wolfsburg's is breaking with tradition.

The conductor

The 23-year-old's creative DNA is big news throughout the continent at present, with only Chelsea FC's Cesc Fabregas matching the Belgian midfielder in the assists department across the four major European leagues so far this season.

"Kevin's got that extra bit of class you need if you're going to compete at the top," said Wolfsburg head coach Dieter Hecking. "He's one of those players that if you tell him to play as a No10, he'll play out wide and vice versa. He's always looking to make space and that makes it really tough for the opposition."

The Wolves' flame-haired string puller laid on two goals for the second week running in Sunday's comfortable 2-0 victory over Hamburger SV at the Volkswagen Arena. He even sprinted a generous 77 metres with the ball at his feet for one of them, thereby cementing his place at the top of the 2014/15 Bundesliga providers' charts with nine assists in 11 outings.

Winning mentality

"I'm a natural-born winner, admitted De Bruyne. "When I play football, I have fun. The first few months were hard, but I returned from the World Cup feeling good. It's going a bit better for me than it was last season, but it's the same for the other players too."

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup quarter-finalist thriving in a Wolves side brimming with pace across the midfield, second-placed Wolfsburg are currently enjoying their highest league position since a week-long stay at the top back in August 2011. What's more, as well as winning their last six Bundesliga outings on the spin, they have scored more goals (22) than any other side in the top four, excluding leaders FC Bayern München (27).

Best-mark in the making

"We shouldn't dream about playing good football; it's what we have to do," De Bruyne affirmed. "Everyone's that little bit fresher now. The transition between competitions isn't always easy, but we've got a good squad. There isn't a dip in quality if the coach makes changes. It was a tough start, especially with all the injuries, but now we're having a bit more luck."

It certainly took a dose of good fortune to wrangle the domestic crown from perennial favourites Bayern when the Auto City Club lifted their one and only Bundesliga title in 2008/09. Ex-Wolves orchestrator Zvjezdan Misimovic set a top-flight record for most assists (20) in a single season all those years ago, and while it's a best-mark that's since been surpassed by Franck Ribery (22, 2011/12), it's one that could conceivably be back in Wolfsburg hands - or more specifically De Bruyne's - come May.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge