Former Genk boss Franky Vercauteren does not believe Belgian starlet Kevin de Bruyne is ready for a move to Chelsea.
The 20-year-old winger has been heavily linked with a move to west London after the Blues failed in their attempt to sign him last summer, but are believed to be considering a renewed £7million bid when the transfer window reopens in January.
Andre Villas-Boas is a known admirer of de Bruyne, and took the opportunity to praise the talented youngster when Chelsea faced the reigning Belgian champions at Stamford Bridge in the UEFA Champions League back in October.
"De Bruyne has always been an interesting player," he said. "He can play in several positions, wide left or in central midfield, and is exceptionally gifted technically."
However, Vercauteren, the man who led Genk to the Jupiler League title last season and helped nurture De Bruyne's talent, believes de Bruyne would benefit from a move to a club a 'step between' Genk and Chelsea, as he continues his footballing education.
"I think it is a very big step for him," he told Sport360. "He will have problems with the physical power in England. Of course training alongside very good players always makes you better as is the case with [Romelu] Lukaku, but I'd rather he joined a club a step between.
"For me Belgium and Holland is not good enough. He needs a more difficult league. He is at the limit in Belgium. Of course he will get better with more experience but he needs another challenge."
Meanwhile, Vercauteren has urged De Bruyne's compatriot, Romelu Lukaku, who did make the move to Stamford Bridge in the summer, to remain patient in his quest to break into the Chelsea first-team.
"You can learn a lot and become better with training, [but] he is still young," he added. "He can take time to improve. Of course at one moment he has to play so if it takes too long he will have to think about leaving.
"But I always prefer first that you take a little bit of time, that your patient and hard working and you take some time."