The biggest transfer within the Bundesliga finally had official confirmation yesterday: Kevin De Bruyne joins VfL Wolfsburg from Chelsea. The Belgian’s transfer fee was rumoured to be around the €20m region, with a five-year contract at Die Wölfe. After being the shining light in a bleak Werder Bremen side, during his loan spell with Wolfsburg’s local rivals in 2012-13, De Bruyne should slot back into German football relatively easily.
The player’s choice should prove to be a good, yet refreshing move away from the Chelsea. De Bruyne found himself a peripheral figure for Chelsea; making just five starts and four substitute appearances. A return not many would have predicted, given the Belgian’s capabilities.
For Chelsea, he will not be a loss in their squad. The club pocketed €20m for a fringe player, recouping Nemanja Matić’s transfer fee in the process. De Bruyne failed to make a lasting impact on Mourinho. In what is an already congested Chelsea midfield, with places fiercely contested for, De Bruyne fell short. His transfer for Wolfsburg offers regular minutes on the pitch; vital, with the World Cup approaching.
Wolfsburg will look to utilise Kevin De Bruyne in various positions for the meantime. A scenario that shouldn’t cause too many issues for Dieter Hecking’s selection, due to the Belgian’s versatility. A deeper role alongside Luiz Gustavo, a more advanced role behind Ivica Olić as well as a role on Wolfsburg’s left midfield have all been speculated. They’re positions that Kevin De Bruyne can adjust too; but will it bring the best out of him?
Werder Bremen brought the best out of Kevin De Bruyne. He played his best football in Germany, no question. For Bremen, De Bruyne was deployed in a three-man midfield in altered positions. Arguably a number ten, but De Bruyne was found to be playing a number eight role for Schaaf’s side. A role he performed well. Despite having a larger influence on games within the final third attempting to pick defences apart, De Bruyne the attributes in his locker to sit deeper. That’s if he is required.
For the short-term, it’s an option that Hecking is likely to consider. For the rest of this season, De Bruyne is likely to partner Luiz Gustavo; behind the front four. With Diego staying and Hecking having various options for his attack, De Bruyne will likely be deployed here. A position where he can still impact matches – yet having the freedom to roam forward and create attacks: freedom that playing alongside Luiz Gustavo allows him.
However, this comes at a bad time for Slobodan Medojevic, as well as new arrival Junior Malanda. The pair, who are both commonly deep-lying midfielders, will find chances hard to come by for the foreseeable future. Especially for Medojevic. The Serbian has found himself a regular in recent fixtures partnering Gustavo. With competition for spots increasing, it remains to be seen whether he will retain his place or be dropped instantly.
The only saving grace for Medojevic is the form of Wolfsburg’s wide midfielders. Ivan Perišić has been vastly underwhelming throughout his Wolfsburg career this far, resulting on his preferred wide-left position not a certain. Hecking hasn’t been worried about dropping the Croat to incorporate Maxi Arnold; opting with Diego on the left.
Luckily for Medojevic, whilst a selection headache for Dieter Hecking; Kevin De Bruyne can play on the left of midfield, if required. It allows Medojevic and Malanda some breathing space when competing for their respective slots alongside Luiz Gustavo firstly.
Secondly, it puts pressure on some of Wolfsburg’s underperforming attackers to perform, not to mention any names (Ivan Perišić). Daniel Caligiuri will also be nervously looking over his shoulder. Despite being Hecking’s option for the right of midfield for the injured Vierinha, he cannot afford too many poor performances. However, he’s steadily finding he’s feet at Die Wölfe and shouldn’t be in too much danger of losing his spot, as it stands. It’s certainly a situation to keep tabs on now, as Dieter Hecking has various options at his disposal.
Lastly, the role that De Bruyne will surely be gunning for: the number ten role. Playing behind Ivica Olić for the meantime. For now, Diego is surely the preferred option. He’s currently the best player in Wolfsburg’s squad, let alone the best option for this particular role. Maxi Arnold has also seen to provide the necessary impact in this role; not as imaginative, but almost as a much needed second-striker for Wolfsburg.
It’s unlikely that De Bruyne will make this position his own this season. With the expected departure of Diego on the horizon, De Bruyne will soon push up and occupy his preferred position when it’s available. But if you were in Hecking’s shoes; would it hurt to give De Bruyne a run of games through the middle? Surely not.
Wolfsburg have bagged yet another gem in Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian also provides an upgrade on the recently departed Ja-Cheol Koo, now of Mainz. It’s yet another statement from Wolfsburg to Bundesliga’s top dogs that they mean business – after smashing the €17m transfer record spent on Gustavo, now raised to €20m on De Bruyne – twice in six months. The stability that Dieter Hecking and Klaus Allofs provide Wolfsburg bodes well for the future, something Wolfsburg have severely lacked in recent times.
With those two steering Wolfsburg in the right direction, as well as signing the right type of players; Wolfsburg are on the rise – with Kevin De Bruyne playing a huge part.
Written by Liam Lee
Follow Liam on Twitter @Liam10Lee
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