Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes former Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is the opposition player who his side should be most wary of in Thursday night’s Europa League opener against Wolfsburg.
The Toffees begin their first continental campaign since 2010 with a home date against the German side, who also have ex-Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner and Croatian international Ivica Olic within their ranks, and Martinez stresses that their Group H rivals should not be underestimated.
‘Wolfsburg are a really well-structured team,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘They've got a really good balance, really good experience, full internationals, players that know how to play on these sort of occasions.
‘De Bruyne is a player we know from his Chelsea time but I think he's gone on to the next level and is a really important player in the forward play alongside Olic.
‘They've got a really strong side. But we're playing at home. We're going to make sure we are the team that sets the tempo of the game.
‘We're really looking forward to facing a team of the quality of Wolfsburg. I do feel they could easily be a team playing in the Champions League.’
A young revelation in Belgian football with KRC Genk, De Bruyne signed for Chelsea in January 2012 for £7 million, but would remain at the Pro League club for the rest of the season before joining up with the Blues.
Sent out on a season-long loan to Werder Bremen the following campaign, the emerging winger scored 10 goals in 33 Bundesliga matches, but found himself out of the first-team picture under Jose Mourinho upon his return to Stamford Bridge, featuring in just nine games over the first-half of the 2013-14 season.
Publically criticised by his manager, he subsequently made a £17 million return to Germany in January with Wolfsburg, where he has since notched up eight assists and three goals in 22 total appearances.