Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne says he is "probably not too far" away from challenging from the Ballon d'Or, having become more of a "complete footballer" in recent years.
De Bruyne arrived at Etihad Stadium from Wolfsburg for £55 million ($71m) in the summer of 2015, moving back to the Premier League after an unsuccessful spell at Chelsea earlier in his career.
The Belgium international has since racked up over 200 appearances across all competitions for City, scoring 50 goals, while establishing himself among the finest playmakers in Europe.
City have won seven major trophies with De Bruyne pulling the strings in midfield, including two Premier League titles, and the opportunity to add to that haul is set to present itself this weekend.
Pep Guardiola's men are scheduled to face Aston Villa in Sunday's Carabao Cup final at Wembley, four days on from beating Real Madrid in a Champions League last 16 clash.
De Bruyne provided an assist for Gabriel Jesus and scored from the penalty spot in a 2-1 first-leg win at Santiago Bernabeu, proving himself as the man for big occasions once again.
Despite his recent success at the Etihad, the 28-year-old has yet to earn a top ten finish in the Ballon d'Or voting, coming in at 14th during the 2019 ceremony.
However, when asked if he is close to bucking that trend, De Bruyne expressed his belief that he is "pretty close" to being recognised as one of the best players in the world.
"[I'm] probably not too far. But who am I to decide that?" the City talisman told Sky Sports. "I just try to be the best I can be. I've been playing well over the last few years and even last season, I had a lot of injuries but the times that I was on the pitch, I was doing OK. Even in Germany, I had good years and I felt happy, but who decides [the best footballers], I don't know, but I think I'm pretty close.
"It helps [being nominated for the Ballon d'Or], but first and foremost is team performance. I know if the team performs well and I perform with them, I will get the accolades. Over the last few years, I've been in contention for the top 30 in the world and it feels good because you work very hard in your profession and to be acknowledged as being really good at what you do is always nice to hear.
"It gives me the motivation to stay there and be on top for as long as I can because [playing] football is for a short period of time and I just want to be the best version of what I can be. What that is, I don't know, but every year is different and this year went really well for me.
"I think I'm more of a complete footballer than I was a few years ago. I've had some good years in my career but I think either side of the ball, mentally, leading a team, I'm better now than I was two or three years ago. I think I'm doing really well and I feel comfortable and happy with the way I'm performing."