Mired in the doldrums of yet another international break -- wasn't it nice, from November to March, to not have any? -- the rumor mill whirs into overdrive. Everybody's signing everybody else once again! So much drama, so many exclusives, so many in-the-know sources, one can hardly keep up with all the noise. Just in the last 48 hours, we've been linked with a couple handful of (mostly attacking) midfielders, a random striker (Emenike, again), some crappy non-foreign goalkeepers, while selling roughly half the team and perhaps offering the rest as human sacrifice to the football gods. I may have made some of that up, but how could you even tell? I'm almost pining for the days of long ago, when we just had our tinfoil hats on and commiserated about the unfairness of this whole "campaign" thing.
The international break tends to result in an increase of player quotes, too, as the stars leave the relative shelter of their clubs to be the very public faces of their national teams. But they hardly ever have anything interesting to say. For example, Branislav Ivanovic is ready to face the challenge of Cristiano Ronaldo, shout the headlines as if this is shocking and wholly unexpected. Well, no [shoe] he's ready. Plus, what else is he going to say? "Run away?" "Not in the face?" "Please don't hurt me?" Banality overload.
These interviews also serve as opportunities to pry into club business. Journalists are constantly hoping somebody drops even the merest hint, the merest hint of a hint, about a potential transfer or a teammate or anything else that could be mangled into something dramatic. So when they ask Eden Hazard about Kevin De Bruyne, and Hazard answers with a reasonable, and I'm paraphrasing here, "well he's my friend, so it's not like I can say anything bad, not that I'd want to because he's clearly a quality player and I wish I could play with him not just in the national team, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he's better than my current Chelsea teammates, or that I wish we would've sold Oscar or Willian instead; and obviously this means nothing insofar as my relationship with Mourinho or my happiness at Chelsea and I hope you guys don't even think about insinuating from these quotes something about that..." we shouldn't be surprised that instead we get headlines such as:
"Eden Hazard thinks Jose Mourinho was wrong to sell Kevin De Bruyne"
"Kevin De Bruyne should still be playing for Chelsea - Eden Hazard"
"Hazard questions De Bruyne sale"
"Eden Hazard Takes Dig at Mourinho, Believes Chelsea-Reject Kevin de Bruyne Good..."
Good job, guys. Here's what Hazard actually said:
"He is a great player. Mourinho decided to let him go and not play him. It was not my decision, even though I know very well that he could play at Chelsea because he has tremendous qualities."
"I think at Chelsea, you have more pressure than Wolfsburg. It's a shame he's gone but he'll have a successful career."
-Eden Hazard; source: Get West London
Clearly the headline we should all be going with is "Hazard thinks Mourinho should let him run the team and make all the decisions." Or perhaps "Eden Hazard thinks Messi should be playing for Chelsea because he's got tremendous qualities." Now where's my £3000?
Hazard isn't alone in (having to) talk about Kevin De Bruyne. The ex-Chelsea man has been one of the best players in the Bundesliga this season. People tend to notice such things. And since he doesn't play for Bayern Munich, that obviously must mean that he will be sold soon. Possibly to Bayern Munich because that's how things tend to go over there. Or perhaps to Manchester City, or Manchester United. Or perhaps even Chelsea, as highly unlikely as that may seem. But who cares about common sense when you got an anonymous ESPN source to rely on?
Kevin De Bruyne would consider a move back to Chelsea despite barely featuring in his time at Stamford Bridge, sources told ESPN FC.
The in-demand Belgium midfielder's immediate future probably rests on whether Wolfsburg qualify for the Champions League, but he would be open to the possibility of a second spell in London.
-source: ESPN (P.S.: you're NOT a football club)
Ah yes, the friendly neighborhood anonymous sources who provide very little actual information. Best sources ever! Speaking of which, I talked to my sources as well just now (my mouse pad and the bottle cap from this Diet Coke that I'm drinking) and I can exclusively reveal that Kevin De Bruyne is open to considering a name-change to Pimp McP and eating a bag of Doritos for dinner tonight. Nacho cheese, of course. Pimp McP only eats OG Doritos, don't get it twisted.
"Should an even bigger club make a move suddenly and Wolfsburg were to agree, it is like it is. I am not saying that I'll be leaving soon, but I am also not saying that I will stay here forever. That would be stupid."
Romelu, is that you? Ok, maybe it's not so bad.
There's little doubt that De Bruyne is a quality player. He's been tremendous for Genk, Werder Bremen, and now Wolfsburg. He was less than tremendous in the 400 or so minutes he got at Chelsea. Maybe he would've been able to match his Wolfsburg output at Chelsea, has he stayed. Maybe not. Probably not? We'll never know, we can only speculate. One thing's for sure, he's just 23 and there's a good chance that he will get even better. Wherever he lands next, he will most likely make that team better. But that probably won't be at Chelsea.