With Manchester City entering strange times, there may be no better time for Chelsea to make a play for Kevin De Bruyne. Even if it is a pipe dream.
Of all the Chelsea youth that should have gotten a chance over the last decade or two, Kevin De Bruyne surely has the strongest case for one that got away. He was excellent in the Bundesliga before returning to Chelsea. Then Jose Mourinho gave him a handful of chances (which were admittedly not great) and he subsequently wrote him off.
He was sold to Wolfsburg where he picked up where he left off in Germany. After setting assist records, Manchester City paid a then astronomical fee for the Belgian. He has since been one of, if not the main, center pieces of Pep Guardiola’s City side.
But City has gotten put down due to Financial Fair Play. With no Champions League (pending appeal) and Guardiola surely getting itchy feet, the Manchester side may see an exodus. There is certainly no guarantee that De Bruyne would be interested in returning to Chelsea, but there will be no better time to at least try.
First things first: Manchester City’s appeal will need to fail before any of this becomes even a sliver of possible. FIFA and company have had FFP around for years but has been extremely reluctant to actually use it against any of the bigger teams. Manchester City’s Champions League ban is the biggest punishment seen yet, but there is no guarantee it may stick.
If it does, then the window is open. Guardiola, whether he or fans will admit it or not, desperately wants to complete his trophy cabinet in Manchester with a Champions League trophy. To be barred from it for a year, combined with Guardiola rarely staying at a club this long, may be enough to see him depart.
With Champions League and Guardiola out of the picture, the door will be fully open for an exodus at Manchester City. Most of the center pieces of the team, including De Bruyne, are entering the prime of their careers. Most will have one last big move left in them and like Guardiola, they will have eyes on the big eared trophy.
That is probably the biggest knock against Chelsea. The Blues are some ways away from being able to compete for the Champions League consistently enough to make it a selling point. The only other thing they have to offer De Bruyne is a chance to stay in England and a chance to right a past wrong.
Again, this would be a long shot. To even say there is a five percent chance is probably over estimating. But that small chance should be enough for Chelsea to at least send out feelers. The only way to make it happen is to show interest and Chelsea may as well even if the notion of De Bruyne returning is a pipe dream.
If he were to return, however, he would slot right into the Chelsea XI as the main man on the pitch. Frank Lampard will have known him from before and can form the bond in Chelsea Blue that Mourinho never really cared to. The Champions League may not be on the table in the short term, but it would be a whole lot closer with De Bruyne pulling the strings.
This is a pipe dream, but at least one worth trying to make happen. Chelsea has beaten worse odds before simply by trying. No reason not to roll the dice and see what happens here.