Former Chelsea coach Eddie Newton has revealed he warned the club about letting Kevin De Bruyne go when he was at Stamford Bridge as a youngster.
The Belgium international is now preparing to take on Chelsea in the Champions League final this weekend, after becoming one of the best players in the world at Manchester City.
De Bruyne and City will be favourites for the trophy this weekend, but things could have been so different if the Blues had realised the talent they had on their hands all those years ago.
Jose Mourinho was in charge of Chelsea at the time and has never been one to hand out too many opportunities to young players, with De Bruyne one of a few big names who were let go who later ended up shining for the club’s rivals.
CFC also had Romelu Lukaku and Mohamed Salah at that time, but Newton has spoken to The Athletic about just how highly he rated De Bruyne and how much he warned the club against selling him.
Unfortunately, when Jose Mourinho came back in as manager (in the summer of 2013), their personalities became an issue. They clashed. It wasn’t going to work. Newton said.
“I remember reporting back to (former technical director) Michael Emenalo and saying, ‘We can’t lose this guy. This guy is going to be top’. He was like, ‘I know, I know. But at the moment, that’s not going to happen’.
I said it many times. Michael and me loved Kevin. He just needed more adjustment time. I was saying, ‘Give him time on the pitch. He will prove to you that he is good enough’. It’s just a shame. In my opinion, he didn’t suit the tactical plan of Mourinho at the time.
“It’s awkward then (in such circumstances). As a club, you’re looking at him and saying you want him but the manager is saying he doesn’t fit in his plans. On top of that, you have a player who is driven, isn’t going to sit around and be patient, waiting for something to materialise. Sometimes, the stars aren’t aligned.”
This certainly reflects poorly on Chelsea and Mourinho, and it’s likely to go down as one of the worst transfer decisions of recent history after De Bruyne’s outstanding form and success at Man City.