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Missed opportunity: Chelsea do not have a sell-on clause on Kevin De Bruyne

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A lot has been said and written about Kevin De Bruyne's time and especially end at Chelsea.  Whoever's right, whoever's wrong, it doesn't quite matter at this point.  The perception of one side or the other is no doubt biased in their own favor; the truth is probably somewhere between Mourinho's account (De Bruyne did not train well, did not want to compete to the manager's liking) and De Bruyne's account (Mourinho's unfair and harsh and he can do one).  Here's an account from Belgian outlet HLN that goes into greater detail, if you'd like to know more.

The facts we do know are as follow:  De Bruyne made just nine appearances (five starts) in the half-season he actually spent in the Chelsea squad.  He started two of our first three Premier League matches that season, but after a rather subpar showing against Swindon Town in the League Cup, he was relegated firmly to sixth choice behind Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Schürrle, and Juan Mata.  Disappointing as it may have been, it was also somewhat understandable that he'd want to move on at that point, especially given that it was a World Cup year.  Another loan was not an option thanks to the friction between player and manager.  That we managed to get €20m (at the time equal to £16.5m) for a want-away was generally perceived to be good business on our part.

"I think Chelsea did a very good job. If De Bruyne stayed here, not happy, not motivated, wanting to leave, he stays here one more year and then we sell him for less than 50 per cent what we sold him for. In that moment it was very good business."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Get West London

After accounting for all the financials and other FFP shenanigans, Chelsea recorded a little over £10m profit on De Bruyne, who had arrived from Genk 18 months prior for about £6.7m (€8m).  Very good business, indeed.

At the time.

"You compare it today when somebody pays for him what somebody would've payed for Messi or Cristiano then it looks in the eyes of the world like we did bad business."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Get West London

As Jose says, unfortunately, today, that business seems like terrible business, thanks to what looks to be a massive transfer fee about to be paid out by Manchester City for De Bruyne's services.

Not just most expensive Belgian in fact, but (second?)* most expensive buy in British football history at £55+3m (€80m).  If you're keeping track in euros, that's 10-times what we paid to Genk just three years ago.  Wow.

* Angel Di Maria moved to Manchester United last summer for €75m, but at last summer's exchange rates, that equaled £59.7m.

There is no doubt that De Bruyne is a talented playmaker.  Is he worth that much money?  Clearly, to City, he is.  Would he have reached this level of excellence had he stayed with Chelsea?  Maybe?  Probably not.  That won't stop this story from being presented as a grave mistake from Chelsea, but, in the end, our only mistake will have been to not include a sell-on clause when we did the deal with Wolfsburg.  Even a 10% sell-on would've netted us back the original transfer fee we paid!  One would think this would've been an obvious clause to include, but it would seem we did not want to push our luck in the negotiations.

Granted, no one has come out to officially confirm or deny the existence of said sell-on clause.  We will not know for sure until the transfer goes through and the money changes hands.  Until then, we'll just have to take the papers' word for it (e.g.: TelegraphMirrorHLNThe Sun).


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