Jose Mourinho has detailed how he wanted Kevin De Bruyne to stay at Chelsea but the Belgian star forced a move.
De Bruyne, 29, joined the Blues in 2012 from Genk and was immediately loaned out to Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga. At the Weserstadion in 2012/13, the playmaker was sensational, netting 10 goals and sealing the division’s ‘Young Player of the Year’ award.
Returning to Stamford Bridge, incoming boss Mourinho immediately handed the burgeoning Belgian an early chance to prove himself, starting him in two of the club’s three opening Premier League games in 2013/14, including an hour run out against Man Utd at Old Trafford.
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However, Mourinho has since explained why Chelsea allowed De Bruyne to leave despite those early showings, saying the midfielder ‘put pressure’ on him into letting him return to the Bundesliga after assurances couldn’t be made that he would start every week.
Mourinho told talkSPORT: “He impressed me so much I made the decision I don’t want this kid to go on loan, I want him to stay, and in our first match of the Premier League season he started against Hull City.
“In the second match we got to Old Trafford and after this he come to me and said, ‘I want to play every match, I want to play every minute’. He put a lot of pressure on that.
“He wanted to leave, he wanted to go to Germany where he was previously on loan and so happy, and his decision was to go. He put big pressure on that and it worked very well for him.
“The story is there and the quality of the player is absolute, he is top five in the world.”
De Bruyne ultimately returned to Germany, flourishing with Wolfsburg before Man City spent a king’s ransom to bring him to the Etihad, where he has since established himself as one of the game’s greatest-ever playmakers and mopped up silverware aplenty.
Who else have Chelsea let go?
De Bruyne is not the only player to have eluded Chelsea’s grasp when once on the books. Mohamed Salah joined from Basel in 2014 and made 19 appearances before two fruitful loan spells in Italy with Fiorentina and Roma saw him join the latter on a permanent deal, and then of course, onto Liverpool.
Romelu Lukaku was also at Chelsea, relocating from boyhood club Anderlecht a decade ago, but chances proved scarce and he eventually joined Everton after a productive loan spell. Man Utd came next, where he often blew hot and cold, before he joined Inter Milan and transformed their frontline.
Other players who arguably weren’t given a fair shake at Chelsea but have gone on to reach great heights are Mario Pasalic of Atalanta, Nathan Ake who has been unlucky with injuries at Man City, Patrick Bamford who finished fourth in the Golden Boot race for 2020/21, and Thorgan Hazard of Borussia Dortmund.