It is generally accepted that Manchester City and Chelsea are the “big two” in the English Premier League these days. Nowadays the Premier League is blue and it looks likely that one of those two will win the league again this year. In the war between the two clubs, between the two managers, there will be many battles and Kevin De Bruyne represents an interesting one.
In January 2014, Chelsea considered Kevin De Bruyne surplus to requirements, selling him to VfL Wolfsburg for £18 million.
Not many Chelsea fans seemed too concerned by the loss of De Bruyne in 2014 but a fair few more will be worried by Manchester City’s capture of him this summer, it has been a remarkable 18-month turnaround.
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Since De Bruyne left Chelsea, he has taken his game to another level. Last season in the Bundesliga De Bruyne registered 10 goals and 21 assists as Wolfsburg finished a respectable second - their highest finish since 2009. It makes you wonder how he only managed three appearances with his time at the Chelsea.
Any fan of the German League will believe that City have signed a class act, capable of significantly improving the team. English fans will remain more sceptical. If a player does not have a great time in the Premier League, we English fans struggle to forget that.
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One thing is clear: De Bruyne is going to be a very big mistake for either Chelsea or City. He will either be Mourinho’s mistake or Pellegrini’s problem.
Manchester City have made a brilliant start to the season with four straight wins and, if De Bruyne can match the £55 million price paid for him, City will be a dead-cert to win the title. They seem strong enough to reclaim the title already, throw in the Belgian with the form he showed at Wolfsburg and who knows what City can achieve.
Have Chelsea made a big mistake?
For Chelsea, it could be an unforgettable oversight, similar to Paul Pogba at Manchester United.
They will have let go of a world-class midfielder for a relatively small price, only for him to join their rivals the following year. Jose Mourinho never likes to sell good players to rivals; a mantra he has lived by throughout his career, bar Petr Cech.
It would be the worst way to lose a title from a Chelsea perspective, a most “un-Chelsea” like way to lose a title. When Mourinho sells a player, usually he isn’t missed. De Bruyne could be the anomaly.
Or have Man City made the mistake?
On the other hand, there is a danger that the hype surrounding De Bruyne is just hype. Mourinho could have been right. He does have a habit of that.
He was the one who worked with De Bruyne day in and day out. There was obviously something he didn’t like about the Belgian midfielder, something that he didn’t rate. If Mourinho is right, then City have just spent a lot of money on what could be a very expensive risk.
Some people may look at City’s start to the season and think that even if De Bruyne does struggle, they have got enough to win the title. Which may be true, but nonetheless having a £55 million player sitting on the bench cannot be good for a club.
Moreover, a £55 million player will inevitably play. Every club is going to give a player of that price numerous chances to prove his worth and justify the club’s spending. If he isn’t firing then he could weaken what seems to be a strong and settled City side.
It will be interesting to see how this one pans out, but it is clear De Bruyne will have an impact on the top of the Premier League.