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From Chelsea scrapheap to Man City summit - Why Kevin De Bruyne has the world at his feet

COMMENT: Jose Mourinho may just have a wee bit of egg on his face.

The Portuguese may have once had the football community in the palm of his hand but in more recent times, his reputation has started to wane.

In early 2014, Mourinho erred greatly when he overlooked a player by the name of Kevin De Bruyne.

The Belgian playmaker had arrived at Stamford Bridge from Genk in the summer of 2012 having signed a five-and-a-half-year deal with the Blues the previous winter.

After being told he was to be a key part of Chelsea's plans for the 2013/14 season, having impressed on loan in the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen in 2012/13, De Bruyne was discarded less than six months later.

The lucky recipients of De Bruyne's services were VfL Wolfsburg who were all too keen on giving the sublimely talented attacking midfielder every possible opportunity.

That chance to play regularly was something not afforded to him at Stamford Bridge where he made nine, yes NINE, appearances. Not even starts. About 400 minutes of action.

Startling…

Look, I'm not belittling the man once known as the 'Special One'. This is not the first time a manager, coach or scout has got it wrong.

But for a fellow with such an exceptional judge of character, Mourinho completely missed the boat on this one.

In the second half of the 2013/14 campaign with Wolfsburg, De Bruyne resumed the fine form in Germany's top flight which yielded him 10 goals and nine assists in 33 outings for Bremen the season before.

Three goals and six assists in 16 Bundesliga appearances began to vindicate the £18million fee they shelled out to Chelsea.

In Mourinho's defence, nobody knew what 'KDB' was then going to produce in 2014/15.

This undoubtedly stellar campaign saw the increasingly proficient Belgium international score on 16 occasions while providing his teammates with goals 28 times in 55 matches in all competitions.

How somebody can produce these numbers only 18 months after being cast aside is quite astonishing. And in a quality league to boot.

That supreme showing for Die Wölfe prompted Manchester City to invest a club-record £54m in De Bruyne.

Pep Guardiola, while not City boss at the time, knew all about the majesty and grace of the player, and may have had a say in him making the move to the Etihad Stadium - provided the Spaniard's deal with City had been made a year out from his eventual arrival.

His performance against Guardiola's Bayern Munich in January 2015 was one for the ages.

Two goals and an assist for Bas Dost's opener guided Wolfsburg to a 4-1 triumph. It was one of only five defeats the Bavarian giants copped in the league that season.

De Bruyne possesses attributes that show him moving seemingly without trying, always detecting the correct option with his forward passing, and producing sublime delivery from dead ball situations.

His debut season with City, which was interrupted by injury, saw him score 15 goals and produce 14 assists in 40 outings in all comps.

The 25-year-old showed just how important he is to the City side earlier this year when returning from a two-month absence to score in both of the side's Champions League ties against PSG.

His form already under Guardiola has been utterly exciting highlighted by his opening goal in City's 2-1 derby win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

In stealthy, ninja-like fashion, he ghosted in to brilliantly control Kelechi Iheanacho's flicked header, making Daley Blind look stupid, before expertly finishing beyond one of the world's best goalkeepers in David De Gea.

His all-round showing that day was superb.

Under the guidance of Guardiola, De Bruyne is destined to be one of the most dangerous players in Europe, if not at least the Premier League.

He has Champions League know-how, is an experienced international and has the humility and modesty to continue working hard for improvement.

He will be forced to do so by Pep, he will have no choice, but it appears he is determined to keep getting better anyhow, which suggests he is only destined for greatness.

I'm aware Chelsea won the Premier League title without De Bruyne in 2014/15, but would their fall from grace have been so hard if he had been around?

It's a rhetorical question, I know, but one thing is for sure, West London will be a poorer place in his absence.

Chelsea fans will unceasingly say, 'what if we had De Bruyne?' Manchester United supporters may even wonder what might have been had Mourinho stayed true.

On the other side of the coin, the City faithful will get to see him destroy opposition first-hand for a number of years yet.

This guy can be absolutely anything.

How Mourinho did not see that has me puzzled…

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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