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On the de Bruyne panic

Joern Pollex

Two years ago, Kevin de Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois helped Genk to a Belgium league title. Courtois was immediately sold to Chelsea, and while it took a little while longer to land de Bruyne, the Blues secured his signature in the following January, to not a whole lot of fanfare. A moderately disappointing preseason tour was followed up by a wildly successful loan to Werder Bremen which saw the youngster prove his supporters right by immediately establishing himself as one of the top players in the Bundesliga.

And now, with four years left on his contract, we're worried about Chelsea selling him to a team with less money. Why?

Well, obviously, because there are rumours to that extent, with Bild leading the charge by claiming that he already has an agreement in place with Borussia Dortmund. But rumours are rumours, rather than fact, and it seems as though we're taking them far too seriously. What reasons do we have to believe that Chelsea would sell?

It's not money, obviously. It's also not contract situation, or current/projected talent. The comments from his agent indicate that de Bruyne's perfectly happy with how he's been handled so far. Given all of that, what would motivate the club to sell de Bruyne?

It's difficult to see any scenario in which a rational Chelsea sells one of their top prospects to BVB for the 15 million that's being bandied about. If that's true, the fear isn't really about de Bruyne leaving -- it's about the Blues being inflicted with a peculiar psychosis, one that forces them to ruin the career of any young player they have on the books.

That's a narrative left over from the early days of the Abramovich revolution. It's also a spurious one, and so full of holes that it might as well be the Chelsea midfield. It's not hard to demolish the idea that the club's history shows that they're pathologically incapable of giving youngsters a chance -- for one thing, the young players the Blues have let go haven't amounted to much, and that's not even mentioning the fact that the current technical director seems obsessed with young talent on a Wengerian scale.

In de Bruyne's situation, the panic over him being sold is made even stranger by the fact that essentially everyone but Bild has insisted that this will be a loan deal. Bayer Leverkusen's chairman has insisted he won't be sold. De Bruyne's agent has said he'll be staying with Chelsea next season or loaned out again, both of which would keep him on the club's books. There's essentially nothing to worry about.

That won't stop us worrying, of course -- worrying is what football fans do -- but when rumours rely on a club being totally and utterly insane, it's difficult to give them much credence.

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