Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne is determined to replace Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the world game, says Genk coach Domenico Olivieri.
The 26-year-old midfielder has come a long way since his potential was first spotted by those in his native Belgium.
His efforts for City are already considered to have positioned him among the global elite, with the 2017-18 campaign seeing him deliver another 11 goals and 19 assists.
De Bruyne is, however, setting his sights on becoming the best player on the planet, with Olivieri considering him to be among the contenders ready to follow in the footsteps of Barcelona and Real Madrid superstars Messi and Ronaldo – who have 10 Ballons d’Or between them.
A man who worked with a highly-regarded creative talent at Genk told the Daily Mail: “He hated to lose and sometimes it was not easy for other players.
“He sees everything quicker and he always did. He would complain because other players were not at the level.
“Now he has the players around him and he will get better. You see him growing. Maybe he doesn't say it — and it's good that he doesn't — but I think he wants to be the best.
“Everybody's talking about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of course, and you see their statistics for goals and assists but he wants to be close and he will keep going.
“Messi and Ronaldo will start to fade in a few years and Kevin will still be on his way to the top. I think this is a target.
“He doesn't talk too much about it. When he talks he's calm and relaxed. He doesn't say stupid things — he's not a man who talks big — but he works hard and, in his heart, he knows what he wants.”
Mario Been, who was in charge of Genk when De Bruyne was sold to Chelsea in 2012, also sees a star turn with the current Premier League leaders going from strength to strength after learning from the experiences of his past.
“He learned a lot in Germany [with Wolfsburg],” said Been.
“He had to run and put energy into his game. When we had power training, he'd say, 'I don't like that coach, don't worry, I will play well when I have to' but I think he changed because I can see his body is strong.
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“He came back really well and is playing at Manchester City with some of the biggest players in the world.
“He sees the solutions quicker than anyone else and they expect the ball and can control it even when he plays it so hard. It is unbelievable to see. He is a leader of the team. He has all the qualities you need.”