Jose Mourinho, player whisperer. Jose Mourinho, player ostracizer.
Which one is it? To hear many of the Chelsea boss’s current and former players tell it, the Portuguese manager was/is the key to their careers. But to hear a select few former pupils tell it — Iker Casillas, anyone? — Mourinho’s unorthodox methods were actually a detriment to their careers.
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The latest player to speak out against Mourinho is former Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who these days is tearing the Bundesliga apart (eight league goals and 12 assists) for Wolfsburg. De Bruyne moved to Wolfsburg from Chelsea in January 2014 after making just three appearances under Mourinho.
The question is, how could a player with De Bruyne’s quality fail to get games at a club like Chelsea? To hear the 23-year-old Belgian World Cup star tell it, Mourinho didn’t play him because his transfer fee wasn’t high enough.
From London 24:
“Being with Chelsea is like being in a different world. Manager Jose Mourinho did not explain to me why I was not playing more regularly for the club.
“Maybe things would have been different if Chelsea FC had to pay [$51 million] and not [$9 million] when I arrived from Racing Genk.
“A higher transfer fee would have potentially handed me a different sort of status inside the club. And, possibly, handed me more chances (to play more regularly).”
OK, so is it a bit “conspiracy theorist” for De Bruyne to say, “If I was an expensive purchase, I’d have played more?” Of course it is, but at the same time, he’s got a point.
If Chelsea had laid out a larger sum of cash, the pressure for the player to perform and live up to his price tag would have afforded him more opportunities in the first team to justify that price.
See, for example, Erik Lamela at Tottenham Hotspur. For $46 million, Tottenham have seen Lamela score all of five goals (one in the Premier League) in his 18 months at the club. Despite his struggles, Lamela still features regularly for Spurs (20 league starts) because the club needs $46 million worth of performances out of the player.
Where De Bruyne gets it wrong is saying his “status inside the club” was affected by his price. It’s not about status, it’s about external and internal pressures, and little more. The fact Chelsea received $20 million for De Bruyne after paying just $9 million tells you what those in charge of the club thought of him as a player.