Now it appears that De Bruyne's return to the Bundesliga is imminent.
De Koster has explicitly affirmed his client's desire to return to Germany, per ChelsTransferGossip, making De Bruyne's loan an essential formality at this point:
Kevin de Bruyne's agent, Patrick de Koster: "We hope something might happen soon. Kevin really wants to go to the Bundesliga" #CFC (Sky)— ChelsTransferGossip (@ChelsTransfer) January 6, 2014
But more alarmingly for Chelsea, it appears the promising young midfielder might be more than just a loan for Wolfsburg. Though Jose Mourinho has asserted his desire to retain De Bruyne, it appears the terms of the loan might allow for a permanent transfer, per Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard:
As Standard Sport revealed last week, the two clubs have started negotiations, but Chelsea have set a remarkable £25m asking price to try and scare the Bundesliga side off.
Wolfsburg are only prepared to pay up to £17m, although are also exploring the possibility of acquiring him on loan initially in view of a permanent transfer.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho doesn’t want to sell the 22-year-old, although is believed to be prepared to let him leave on loan.
Chelsea may be stacked in the midfield, and having De Bruyne leave on loan is certainly no terrible loss for the Blues, especially if they extract their exorbitant price tag. But losing the 22-year-old, widely regarded as one of the best young talents in the world, would be bad business.
Would it be a mistake for Chelsea to let Kevin De Bruyne leave?
De Bruyne understandably wants more playing time as a personal showcase for a spot on the Belgian World Cup team, and his lapses in defensive concentration make him too dangerous to play given Chelsea's high stakes. But his creativity, finishing and vision make him an ideal fit in the future midfield for the Blues, and even £25 million is not worth losing one of the squad's best prospects.
Even if De Bruyne is not ready now, Jose Mourinho understands the midfielder's value. The Chelsea boss has clashed with De Bruyne, most notably after the latter's poor performance in the Capital One Cup in late September, but that never really festered into anything dangerous.
In fact, according to Kieran Beckles of The Sport Review, Mourinho was apologetic last month for not getting De Bruyne more playing time:
Kevin is showing big desire and is working really hard. I feel sorry for not giving him big opportunities.
He’s working better than ever. It’s sad when he isn’t selected and not playing. He’s working in a very professional way which is a change from the beginning.
When he is working the way that he is working, he has to play sooner rather than later. For tomorrow, he is selected. He has a chance to play. In this block of matches, he has to start matches.
Mourinho could be much more sorry if he allows De Bruyne to get away. No, Chelsea will not miss him this year, or anytime in the near future. But the Blues have a likely star on their hands and must resolve his unhappiness to ensure that he does not slip through their hands.