Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne revealed that he spoke to former Chelsea manger Jose Mourinho just two times during his stint at Stamford Bridge.
The 27-year-old played under Mourinho, who was then the manager of Chelsea, in the 2013-’14 season. It was the only year he played with the London giants after signing with them in 2012. In 2014, De Bruyne secured a permanent move with German club VFL Wolfsburg.
“When I was at Chelsea, there was so much in the press about my relationship with Jose Mourinho,” the Belgian wrote in The Players Tribune. “But the truth is that I only ever spoke to him twice. The plan was always for me to go on loan for a bit. So I went to Werder Bremen in 2012, and that season went great.”
After signing with Chelsea, de Bruyne spent one year on loan with Werder Bremen. During that time, he had a number of suitors including current Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“When I came back to Chelsea the next summer [in 2013], a few German clubs wanted to sign me. Klopp wanted me to come to Borussia Dortmund, and they played the kind of football that I enjoy. So I thought maybe Chelsea would let me go,” de Bruyne said.
“But then Mourinho texted me, ‘You are staying. I want you to be part of this team.’ So I thought, OK, great. I’m in his plans.”
However, the Belgian maestro soon fell out of the Portuguese’s plans. De Bruyne, widely regarded as one of the best players in the Premier League, featured just nine times for Chelsea.
“When I arrived for preseason, the vibe was good. I started two of the first four games of the season, and I thought I played okay. Not brilliant, but pretty good,” he said.
“After the fourth game, that was it. I was on the bench, and I never really got a chance again. I didn’t get an explanation. I was just out of favor for some reason.”
‘Chelsea didn’t want me’
De Bryune claimed that Mourinho froze him out. He said: “I made some mistakes myself. I was a bit naive about the way that you have to handle yourself as a Premier League footballer. What I think most fans don’t realize is that when you’re out of favor at a club, you don’t get nearly the same attention during training. At some clubs, it’s like you don’t exist anymore.
“If it happened to me now, it wouldn’t be a problem. I know enough to be able to train on my own and take care of myself. But when you’re 21, you don’t understand what it takes. When I got another chance to play, against Swindon Town in the [League] Cup, I wasn’t in good shape. And then that was pretty much it for me.”
De Bruyne recalled about a confrontation with Mourinho in his office. The statistics, though, worked against him.
“Jose called me into his office in December, and it was probably the second big life-changing moment for me,” said the midfielder.
“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. Then he started reading the stats of the other attacking forwards – Willian, Oscar, [Juan] Mata, [Andre] Schurrle.
“And it’s like – five goals, 10 assists, whatever.”
Mata, at the time, was preparing for move away from Chelsea having fallen out of favour with Mourinho himself. De Bryune said he hit back at the former Manchester United boss.
Jose was just kind of waiting for me to say something, and finally I said, ‘But … some of these guys have played 15, 20 games. I’ve only played three. So it’s going to be different, no?’
It was so strange. We had a bit of a conversation about me going back out on loan. And Mata was also out of favor at the time, so Jose said, ‘Well, you know, if Mata leaves, then you will be the fifth choice instead of sixth.’
I was completely honest. I said, ‘I feel like the club doesn’t really want me here. I want to play football. I’d rather you sell me.’
The rest was history. De Bruyne won multiple individual accolades at Wolfsburg before securing a whopping £55 million move with the Premier League giants in Manchester. He is now one of the central figures in Pep Guardiola’s rampant outfit.