The first time we met Kevin De Bruyne was almost four years ago, in a pair of matches against Genk in the Champions League group stages. At the time, we did not know how bad his fashion sense would be. Also, Andre Villas-Boas was our manager-robot. Later that season, Jose Bosingwa would play center back against Barcelona and not lose. Those were ... interesting ... times.
Since then, De Bruyne signed for Chelsea, went on loan to Werder Bremen, played well for Werder Bremen, won Bundesliga Young Player of the Year while at Werder Bremen, came back to Chelsea, played a few games for Chelsea, played just okay for Chelsea, got tired of Chelsea after six months, left Chelsea, went to Wolfsburg, played a lot of games for Wolfsburg, played really really well at times for Wolfsburg, won Bundesliga Player of the Year while at Wolfsburg, said he might leave Wolfsburg if big money came calling, said he wouldn't play for Mourinho again (duh), has been linked with big money moves to Manchesters City and United. The End.
But of course that's not the end. Nothing ever ends in football if there's potential for drama. And there's always potential for drama when De Bruyne and Mourinho come up in the same sentence. Kevin De Bruyne hasn't been a Chelsea player for over a year and a half now, and over that time a lot has been said about why things didn't work out for him here. Opinions range from fully blaming De Bruyne to fully blaming Mourinho, and all stops in-between. At the time of the sale, the overwhelming feeling we got was one of raw pragmatism -- pragmatism that we've seen repeated several times over the last couple years with Mata, Schurrle, Cech, etc.
"That is unfair because I wanted to keep him. And he told me it was not in his personality to be competing for a position in the team. He needed a team where he knows he can play every game. He needs to know that he is important. He did not want a team where he thinks am I playing or not? He needs that trust, he needs that quality. He needs that security. So I was not happy when he left. So yes it's not fair."
Of course Mourinho would think it's "unfair" that some blame him completely for things not working out for De Bruyne. But that doesn't make him wrong.
"He didn't tell me he couldn't handle the pressure. He told me he wanted to play every weekend. I told him this is Chelsea, you are very young, you have Eden Hazard, you have Mata, you have Willian, you have Schürrle, and I cannot promise you that. And the first game of the season against Hull City he played. For the second game against Manchester United, he played. The third game of the season was the Super Cup in Prague, I decided not to play him. For the fourth match, in the Premier League, he was on the bench. And he was not happy. He told me he was not happy."
"He was not training very well and he was saying: ‘I can't give you more. This is just my way.' So yes, I accept that if this his mentality and it's his choice to go, it is better for Chelsea to make a good deal. Chelsea made a good deal and he was happy to go and I am happy because the kid is a good kid. And I am happy for him."
"Players have different circumstances. We sold him, made our money and it was fantastic because we bought him cheap and sold him for a fantastic price. And now Wolfsburg, if they make a fantastic deal, that is good for them."
-Jose Mourinho; source: Guardian
We could take these words in the context of Mourinho trying to sneakily sour the likes of City on the prospects of buying De Bruyne. Or we could take them as a thinly veiled attack on De Bruyne's character. Or we could take them at face value, as a manager simply recounting the past as to why things didn't quite work out. Nowhere is it written that every player must be a perfect fit with every team and with every manager. KDB and Jose were simply not compatible -- though they both made at least a cursory attempt to fix that situation -- and that's a good enough explanation for me.