What many regarded as the transfer saga of the summer finally came to an end when Kevin De Bruyne signed a six-year deal with Manchester City for a club-record fee, believed to be in the region of £55 million.
De Bruyne began his professional career at Pro League side Genk in his native Belgium – making his first-team debut in 2009 – establishing himself as a first-team player.
The Belgian became a fundamental player for Genk, gaining a reputation as the Pro League’s “assist king” after registering 32 assists in two seasons.
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It was this reputation the enticed Chelsea to bring De Bruyne to Stamford Bridge in 2012.
Shortly after his arrival, he was loaned back to Genk and then to Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen the season after. The Belgian’s performances at Bremen sparked rumours of a permanent move to Germany. Incoming manager Jose Mourinho, however, put these rumours to bed by assuring De Bruyne that he was part of Chelsea’s plans and he officially returned to London on 1 July 2013.
Story so far
Despite the re-assurance of the new Chelsea boss, De Bruyne only started five games after struggling to earn a regular starting place in the first eleven.
Mourinho publicly slated De Bruyne during an interview, telling BBC Sport: "He's not selected because I didn't like the match he played against Swindon and I didn't like the way he was training”.
The following January transfer window saw the Belgian put an end to his unsuccessful stint in London and make his way back to Germany – joining Wolfsburg permanently for £18 million on 18 January 2014. The Volkswagen Arena provided the perfect platform for De Bruyne to recapture the form that originally put him on Chelsea’s radar.
The 2014-15 campaign proved to be a hugely successful one and saw him end the league season with ten goals and 21 assists, the latter being a Bundesliga record, as Wolfsburg finished 2nd, thus qualifying for the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League.
De Bruyne ended the season with an impressive 16 goals and 27 assists in all competitions and was named the 2015 Footballer of the Year in Germany.
On 30 August 2015, Manchester City announced that De Bruyne was officially their player after the Citizens agreed a fee with Wolfsburg, believed to be in the region of £55 million.
He was the final addition to a near perfect transfer window for City, following suit with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph and Nicolas Otamendi in making the switch to the Etihad.
The arrival of De Bruyne has not gone without its doubters, however. Some believe Mourinho was right to sell the Belgian because he didn't suit the Chelsea way.
But what is the Chelsea way?
Mourinho has often been accused of putting the shackles on flair players, instead, preferring to make them another part of a resolute side designed to not concede goals as opposed to encouraging players to express themselves.
Mourinho could be proved wrong
The ‘Special One’ decided to give his input amid strong rumours about De Bruyne’s imminent arrival at City, by questioning his mentality.
“With De Bruyne, if you have a player knocking on your door and crying every day he wants to leave, you have to make a decision,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by Sky Sports, “if he was at Chelsea and not at Wolfsburg, he wouldn't have reached this level. It was like a wall, a block.”
If what the Chelsea boss says is true, why have City broken their transfer record to bring him back to England?
There may have only been four games played in this season's campaign, but City have come flying out of the blocks registering a 100% start – scoring ten and keeping four clean sheets.
They’ve put down an early marker in their bid to reclaim the title from Chelsea, by playing fluid and passing football, using a formation and system that compliments the players’ abilities and style of play.
De Bruyne showed at Wolfsburg what he can do when he knows he has the support of the manager, when he is released of the shackles and is allowed to play with freedom – something Manuel Pellegrini encourages all of his players to do.
His style of play fits in with the Manchester City way and he will fit in seamlessly to a side aiming to take back their title, as well as progressing further in the Champions League.
If De Bruyne can continue his blistering form at Manchester City, it will force a large number of doubters to reconsider their opinions.
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