Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has revealed Kevin De Bruyne left the club because he couldn't cope with the competitive nature of the Blues' squad.
The Belgian was sold after failing to make an impression, despite being marked as one of the sport's top developing talents. Speaking with regards to his Stamford Bridge tenure and after a successful season with Wolfsburg, De Bruyne claimed "it's difficult to prove yourself if nobody can watch you," per Sky Sports.
Mourinho thinks it's wrong of the player to indicate he wasn't given opportunities. De Bruyne accumulated two starts and one place on the bench across Chelsea's opening four games in 2013-14, before admitting he couldn't deal with rotation, according to Mourinho, per Rob Draper of the Daily Mail:
I wanted to keep him and he told me that 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 it's not fair (for De Bruyne to suggest he wasn't given chances).
De Bruyne ranked among Europe's top performers last season and has proven himself a constant creative source of goals and assists in the Bundesliga, highlighted by OptaJoe:
20 - Kevin De Bruyne assisted more goals than any other player in Europe's top five leagues last season (20). Admired http://t.co/nDp8c4ageB2015-7-23 11:08:12
He provided an additional five assists in the Europa League, while also scoring a combined total of 15 goals across both competitions, recorded by WhoScored.com. The 24-year-old contributed to 40 goals in 45 matches, offering a significant piece of play every 101 minutes.
Although Mourinho admits De Bruyne "didn't tell me he couldn't handle the pressure," he suggested the player "told me (what) he didn't like and that he wanted to play every weekend."
De Bruyne is now linked with a £50 million move to Manchester City, per Draper. Chelsea sold him for £18 million, and although the player's worth has rocketed, Mourinho remains pleased with the business.
"We sold him, made our money and it was fantastic because we bought him cheap and sold him for a fantastic price," he said, reported by Draper. "And now Wolfsburg, if they make a fantastic deal, that is good for them."
James Robson of the Manchester Evening News believes City are serious about landing the player after securing the signing of Liverpool's Raheem Sterling:
James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN
If City do get De Bruyne it'll be two of their three top targets secured. But still think they'll be short a top class partner for Toure2015-7-22 18:26:23
It may well be that De Bruyne returns to England in dominant form. Mourinho isn't the type of manager to get hung up on whether the player could have contributed to Chelsea. He signed Cesc Fabregas the summer after De Bruyne left, a star who played a key role in the Blues' title success last season.
Mourinho's squad is built on hungry, competitive players who know they have to offer something at both ends of the pitch to remain in the side. We've seen this with Eden Hazard, whose willingness to track back has increased under Mourinho. Rotation is key to Chelsea's success and undoubtedly essential to competing across four fronts.
De Bruyne is unlikely to walk straight into a guaranteed first-team spot if he does move to the Etihad Stadium. Players such as Sterling, David Silva and Samir Nasri are all capable of playing behind the striker, meaning time on the bench is likely for all.
Although Mourinho isn't sure of De Bruyne's attitude, heading back to the Premier League would prove he's ready to fight for every minute on the pitch.