Kevin De Bruyne is one of Europe’s hottest properties at the moment. Chelsea will have to decide where their talented youngster will play next season. Werder Bremen, the Bundesliga side who took him on loan this season would love to keep him for another year, reminiscent of the arrangement Chelsea have with Atletico Madrid with regard to Thibaut Courtois. However, Werder have acknowledged they’re fighting a losing battle. The latest received wisdom is that Chelsea will loan him to a Champions League club but it’s a fluid state of affairs, which is developing all the time so don’t rule out an eventual sale should their arm be twisted far enough.
Many clubs are willing to sign the talented ex-Racing Genk player on loan or even on a permanent basis. As ever at Chelsea, the club finds itself in a state of managerial flux. Rafael Benitez is off at the end of the season and it’s currently far from certain who his successor will be. The club are known for conducting transfer business not only in the absence of a manager but above the head of the current incumbent at any particular time. One thing is for sure, barring the most dramatic of last-minute turnarounds, there will be a sizeable hole to fill in midfield when club legend (and soon-to-be Chelsea’s record scorer) Frank Lampard waves an emotional goodbye.
A player with such talent and skills always deserves a chance, even at Chelsea but as we have also seen with Romelu Lukaku, that’s by no means a given at Stamford Bridge. De Bruyne already showed that he is capable of playing week-in, week-out. He is having a very good season at Werder Bremen and has been one of the standout players. In his first Bundesliga season, Bruyne managed to become a key player of Werder Bremen. He has six goals and nine assists in 29 games this season and despite what has been a difficult campaign for die Grün-Weißen, the young Belgian has stood out as arguably their best player. Furthermore, his wide range of skills and positional flexibility (he played on the left or quite advanced centrally at Genk) will stand him in good stead throughout his career.
If you see the relative ease with which Benteke, Lukaku, Vertonghen and other Belgians have adapted to life in the Premier League, there’s no reason to suggest that an equally smooth transition would be beyond De Bruyne. He has the vision, technique and pace to add something to the Chelsea squad. Were he to operate in the deeper central role Lampard has occupied in the twilight of his Chelsea career, he would have big shoes to fill but he has grown into the role in Germany. Kortrijk boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck, who worked brieflywith De Bruyne at Genk, could not speak highly enough of the 21-year old back in November on VRT’s flagship football show Extra Time:
“Kevin sees everything. He sees you sitting there, he even sees two studios down! Give him possession and he can kill the game, even leading to a second goal. He’s so good at playing a possession game. He’s simply sublime. I stick by (my comparison with Johan Cruijff). He is no Cruijff but he is the type of player who is so decisive for a team, or will be. He can speed things up, he can slow things down, he can play a long ball, he can play a short one. He doesn’t have the big mouth of Cruijff but he can play a similar sort of role on the pitch.”
The question in Belgium is also where De Bruyne should play in the national team. He played his best matches as a winger with Hazard on the other side. With either Benteke or Lukaku up front, both wingers can do what they can the best – dribbling past their opponent and setting up chances for the main striker. Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has a wealth of attacking options but we can already see that De Bruyne is crucial to his plans going forward, as his crucial goal in Skopje in the win over FYR Macedonia showed.
The most important thing for De Bruyne isthat he gets a lot of playing time next season so he can keep on improving. Sitting on the bench in London would only serve to stunt his development. If they want him to play in the Premier League I would suggest clubs like Everton or Newcastle. One thing is (almost) certain, one day the Belgian will assume a starring role at one of Europe’s elite clubs.
Recent reports indicate that Chelsea are ready to splash out an initial €20m for Bayer Leverkusen forward Andre Schürrle with De Bruyne going the other way in the form of another year-long loan. On the face of it, it looks to be a brilliant deal for die Werkself. Schürrle is a fine player but in my view De Bruyne, who is two years younger, has a great deal more potential.
Borussia Dortmund are reportedly ready to come in with a bid but they have yet to make a firm offer and acknowledge that Leverkusen is De Bruyne’s more likely destination. With Chelsea spoilt for choice and Abramovich’s deep pockets, things look bleak for De Bruyne at his parent club. One thing is for sure, the club who end up with his services next season will have an absolute gem of a player.