After a brilliant pre-season with Chelsea, the return of Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne to Chelsea after a season away at Werder Bremen was expected to kick on into an important role in Jose Mourinho's second spell at Chelsea. Unfortunately, that hasn't come to pass. The Portuguese has only rarely utilised him this season, often leaving him out of the squad entirely. In his rare appearances, he usually hasn't shown any major defects in technique or execution to suggest his continuing exclusion was justified.
He wasn't perfect, of course, but there wasn't anything to point to as an example of something he wasn't doing as well as his teammates. As the weeks went by with his appearance total remaining static, assumptions naturally formed about his relationship with the manager. Despite the growing worry about his situation at Chelsea, his standing in the team was never really clarified. As the months have gone by, the assumptions have turned, naturally, to transfer rumours.
Atletico Madrid, the current home of fellow Belgian Thibaut Courtois, emerged as an early favourite, while several clubs in Germany also reportedly staked a claim for his signature. The rumours surrounding Atleti advanced to such a point that it was reported last week that his agents had already met with Spanish club. Today, though, it seems the seemingly-inevitable exit of Kevin De Bruyne may have become much less inevitable, at least according to Jose Mourinho, via Belgian reporter Kristof Terreur:
Mourinho on #DeBruyne: "I feel sorry for not giving him big opportunities up to now, but he's working better than ever." 1/3 #CFC— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) December 3, 2013
Mourinho on #DeBruyne: "I like him as a player. I learn now how to like him, also, as a kid. He's a good kid a good professional." 2/3 #CFC— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) December 3, 2013
Mourinho on #DeBruyne: Hopefully I can give him enough games so he decides to stay in a happy way. I understand he needs to play more." 3/3— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) December 3, 2013
For everybody who was worried about KDB's future at the club, those tweets are going to cheer you up quite a bit. It turns out Mourinho thinks De Bruyne deserves more game time, and also thinks he deserves it at Chelsea. Some of us, myself included, have been questioning Jose's judgement on him, but it seems we were a bit rash. Of course, it remains to be seen if these words will translate into action, but I suspect they will. Jose tends not to make these sorts of promises or admit mistakes without making some effort to follow through.
It must be pointed out that these quotes have emerged around the same time as the problems with Jose consistently-picking the same faces every week have become obvious. The squad regulars have started to show their fatigue of late, and with it, been less effective. It's natural, then, that the manager would look towards the depth in his squad at this point.
If one wants to be overly-cynical, though, it could be said that Jose is using the natural use of the full squad to win some points through false contrition, but let's just assume he really does feel bad about ignoring his young, Belgian charge. It's probably healthier. No matter how genuine the manager's regret for this situation, though, we should just be happy that we'll probably be seeing a bit more of one of our brightest young talents in the matches to come and a few less silly transfer rumours about him in the run up to the January transfer window.