“Not bad for a dead man walking,” said Manuel Pellegrini as he strolled through the corridor back towards the Manchester City dressing room. Twelve points from four games with a goal difference of plus 10 – it is hard to imagine the sainted Pep Guardiola doing any better.
Yesterday Raheem Sterling’s brief tenure as City’s most expensive footballer came to an end with the signing of Kevin de Bruyne for either €70m (£51m) or €80m (£58.5m) depending on whether you accept City or Wolfsburg’s figures. Either way it is about three times what Chelsea sold him for last year.
The Premier League is littered with failure when it comes to big transfer fees. You can take your pick from Juan Sebastian Veron, Andrei Shevchenko, Andy Carroll, Fernando Torres at Chelsea and Angel di Maria. What, you wonder, will make De Bruyne any different?
“These days values are very difficult to assess,” said Vincent Kompany, who is De Bruyne’s captain for Belgium and will soon skipper him at City. “He is a tremendous talent; he has so many assists and goals in him. It doesn’t really matter how the game goes for him, he is always making decisive plays.
“Over the course of the season, that is ultimately what you pay for – more goals and more assists. He has just got something special.”
And yet as becomes easily the most expensive footballer transferred from the Bundesliga, there is one nagging doubt over De Bruyne. If he is so good, why did he not succeed at Chelsea?
“We have all been there,” said Kompany. “Compare yourself to what you were doing at 18 or 20. When you grow up, you change as a person. He has become the best player in Germany; we all know how many great players there are in the German leagues. That is dealing with enough pressure as it is.”Reuse content