Kevin De Bruyne will be looking to flaunt his artistry upon his homecoming return to Stamford Bridge as Chelsea welcome Manchester City to west London in a highly-anticipated clash.
The 30-year-old creative technician had previously enjoyed plotting his annual vengeance against the Blues, forcing Chelsea to rue the transfer woes they have conceded over the years.
However, since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel at the helm of Cobham, De Bruyne has struggled to sing from the same hymn sheet that once proved to hit all the high notes.
The former Paris Saint Germain boss has hosted a defensive metamorphosis at Chelsea which has seen the side evolve into an assured unit, closing the doors to an array of attacking avenues illustrative of the Blues’ Champions League glory.
Tuchel’s triumph over Guardiola in Porto became the German’s third successive win over the Spaniard, stemming from Kai Havertz’s decisive goal and a collective pride to defend as a unit.
The Blues boss has been able to demonstrate why Chelsea was right to offload De Bruyne in January 2014 – despite the years of sorrow that followed – with the management of Havertz, symbolic of his famous goal.
De Bruyne’s meteoric rise to superstardom was ignited by the Belgian’s reportedly hostile meeting with Jose Mourinho in December 2013 when the former Chelsea boss called the Belgian into his office.
City’s figurehead midfielder claimed that Mourinho expressed his desire to retain his services at Stamford Bridge amid growing interest overseas.
In a Player’s Tribune piece published in April 2019, De Bruyne revealed: “José called me into his office in December, and it was probably the second big life-changing moment for me.
“He had some papers in front of him, and he said, ‘One assist. Zero goals. Ten recoveries.’ It took me a minute to understand what he was doing.”
The Belgium international recalled the cold shoulder he was given by the Portuguese boss, but Mourinho’s decision has since paved almost a decade worth of silverware.
De Bruyne added: “Mata was also out of favour at the time, so José said, ‘Well, you know, if Mata leaves, then you will be the fifth choice instead of sixth.'”
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In a polar approach where Tuchel publicly expresses his social and personable character, the Chelsea boss has been able to reignite Havertz’s flame after a turbulent start to life in west London following his £71 million arrival from Bayer Leverkusen.
However, despite Havertz still far from rivalling De Bruyne’e star-studded legacy, the German boss’ ability to hatch and man-manage the 21-year-old in a way that Mourinho wasn’t willing to embrace shows why Chelsea were right to sell the Belgian.
Had the Blues decided against the omission of De Bruyne, his development may have been confined to the man-management tactics employed by Mourinho, that were far from wrong but simply incompatible with the Belgian midfielder.
Chelsea went on to win the Premier League the following season under Mourinho, which essentially saw De Bruyne’s windfall fund the arrivals of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa who proved pivotal to the Blues’ success in years to come.
Can Havertz one day match De Bruyne’s pedigree? And, give us your Chelsea vs City predictions in the comments below! Follow our CareFreeChelsea trends writer – Jake – on Twitter to get involved in the discussion.