With the choirboy looks and understated nature, perhaps De Bruyne might not be sexy enough, and typically he preferred to focus on City's collective efforts when asked about the accolade.
It seems like things have changed.
And former Barcelona boss Guardiola says De Bruyne deserves to be placed alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
"As supporting roles go, it was just one more masterclass from the mercurial Belgian who has lit up this Premier League season more than any other".
But as impressive as the Argentinian was, City again owed a lot to the irrepressible De Bruyne, who created his side's opening three goals in another outstanding display.
Pep Guardiola hailed Sergio Aguero as an "authentic legend" of Manchester City after his four second-half goals continued the club's emphatic march towards the Premier League title with a 5-1 thrashing of Leicester.
Sergio Aguero has admitted he's lucky to be playing aside assist king, Kevin De Bruyne.
Mohamed Salah's season keeps growing stronger with last week's brace for Liverpool against Tottenham firing him past the 20-goal marker in this Premier League season.
"The way he plays it's hard to find one [like him] in Europe".
"How you control the emotions and how you control the bad moments; that is the Champions League".
Guardiola has transformed City this season after a largely disappointing debut campaign in Manchester, where he failed to win a trophy for the first time in his managerial career. The team's previous best run was to the semifinals in 2016.
"We need his goals, that's why it's so good". De Bruyne curled in a unsafe low ball behind the defense and Sterling turned it home.
And finally, he names Saturday's star man: Sergio Aguero (of course!).
But his influence on City's general play is far greater than those stats show, and he will undoubtedly hold higher ambitions than the PFA award he should receive in a matter of months.
De Bruyne has moved to another level since being repositioned by Guardiola this season.
But he pops up everywhere - on the wings, in support of the striker, on set pieces - and possibly has the best delivery ever seen in the Premier League.
City have only progressed beyond the last 16 once in six previous Champions League campaigns - De Bruyne's excellent victor securing a semi-final spot at Paris Saint-Germain's expense in 2016 - and memories of last season's thrilling away goals exit at the hands of Monaco remain fresh for Guardiola. The club is also in both domestic cup competitions. "That is why I am very happy, personally and for the team". I am playing this way because the team is playing this way.
They removed any lingering doubts when Tom Davies struck from close range to make it three with a quarter of an hour remaining, and Luka Milivojevic's reply from the penalty spot after a handball was too little, too late.
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