De Bruyne lacking mental strength

Belgian midfielder sold as he couldn't handle competition at Chelsea, reveals Mourinho

MONTREAL • Jose Mourinho has cast doubt over Kevin de Bruyne's ability to cope with being part of a Premier League title-chasing squad as the Belgian prepares to move to Manchester City for a fee that could break the British transfer record of £49 million (S$104 million).

The Chelsea boss sold de Bruyne to Wolfsburg 18 months ago for £18 million. He watched the player help his new club to finish second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich in a season laden with an impressive 10 goals and 22 assists.

Mourinho has no regrets about parting company with de Bruyne, who made only three Premier League appearances at Stamford Bridge. He said the midfielder lacked the fortitude to compete with a host of world-class rivals for his position.

Providing his move to City is agreed, de Bruyne will surely see a similar situation unfold under Manuel Pellegrini. The 24-year-old faces strong competition for a starting place from players such as Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri.

De Bruyne complained about his treatment at Chelsea but Mourinho rejects that he was the reason for the Belgian's failure to play a key role at the club.

INSECURE

He told me 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.

JOSE MOURINHO Chelsea manager on his former player Kevin de Bruyne

"That is unfair because I wanted to keep him," said the Portuguese. "And he told me 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."

Mourinho added: "He told me he wanted to play every weekend. I told him this is Chelsea, you are very young, you have Eden Hazard, you have (Juan) Mata, you have Willian, you have (Andre) Schuerrle, and I cannot promise you that.

"And the first game of the season against Hull City, he played. For the second game against Manchester United, he played. The third game of the season was the European Super Cup in Prague, I decided not to play him. For the fourth match, in the Premier League, he was on the bench. And he was not happy.

"He told me he was not happy.

"He was not training very well and he was saying: 'I can't give you more. This is just my way.'

"So yes, I accept that if this is his mentality and it's his choice to go, it is better for Chelsea to make a good deal."

THE GUARDIAN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'DE BRUYNE LACKING MENTAL STRENGTH'. Print Edition | Subscribe