Jose Mourinho insisted he saw a quality player in Kevin De Bruyne from the beginning, but the midfielder’s desire to play regular football eventually led to his Chelsea exit.
Obviously, the 29-year-old is not the only player that left Chelsea and went on to become key players for key players elsewhere.
Mohamed Salah at Liverpool, Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan, are a couple of other examples.
In De Bruyne’s case, many questioned Mourinho’s lack of faith in the young talent that might have pushed the playmaker to leave.
However, Mourinho has claimed that it was not the case as he was the one who gave De Bruyne an opportunity at Chelsea in the first place.
“He’s an amazing player. At this moment, he’s one of the best players in the world, no doubt about it,” Mourinho told talkSPORT.
“I arrived at Chelsea for my second spell, and we went to Asia [for the pre-season].
“Kevin was supposed to come with us, along with the group of players that [were going to] leave on loan after the Asian tour.
“He impressed me so much that I made the decision — ‘I don’t want this kid to go on loan, I want this kid to stay.'”
De Bruyne ‘put pressure’ to leave, says Mourinho
The Portuguese highlighted that De Bruyne started in the season opener against Hull City [in 2013].
The Belgium international lost place in the starting line-up in the following game against Aston Villa, but returned as a starter for the visit to Old Trafford.
“After this, he came to me and said, ‘I want to play every match, I want to play every minute.’
“The kid that was supposed to go on loan was not even happy to stay and grow up [at Chelsea].
“So he put a lot of pressure to leave, he wanted to go to Germany where he previously went on loan and was happy to develop in the Bundesliga.
“And his decision was to leave, which worked very, very well for him, and in the end, Chelsea sold him.
“That’s the story.
“But the quality of the player is absolutely amazing — he’s top five in the world, I think.”
To be fair, at the time, Mourinho had plenty of other attacking midfield options in Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata who arguably deserved to be ahead in the pecking order.
While in centre-midfield positions, Ramires and Frank Lampard were clearly his first-choices.
But De Bruyne certainly felt that having regular game time would be best for his development.
He eventually left Chelsea for Wolfsburg in the following January transfer window [in 2014], before joining Manchester City in 2013.