Kevin De Bruyne has revealed his desire for first-team football convinced him to ask Jose Mourinho for a departure from Chelsea, and described his current time at Manchester City as 'nirvana'.
The Belgian international was seen as a hot prospect at Chelsea following his arrival from Genk, and after a successful season out on loan at Werder Bremen, was expected to feature for the Blues in the next campaign.
Despite Mourinho insisting to the Belgian he would get an opportunity in the first team, the midfielder found himself on the periphery, and has now revealed in his column for The Players Tribune that his meeting with the Portuguese boss confirmed his need for a fresh start.
He said: "José called me into his office in December, and it was probably the second big life-changing moment for me. He had some papers in front of him, and he said, 'One assist. Zero goals. Ten recoveries.'
"Then he started reading the stats of the other attacking forwards — Willian, Oscar, Mata, Schürrle. And it’s like — five goals, 10 assists, whatever.
Pep Guardiola on Kevin De Bruyne: “He has the vision to see passes that the other human beings cannot." https://t.co/FVZCx3rxli— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) April 14, 2019
"It was so strange. We had a bit of a conversation about me going back out on loan. 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.'
"I think José was a bit disappointed, but to be fair to him, I think he also understood that I absolutely needed to play. So the club ended up selling me, and there was no big problem at all. Chelsea got more than double the price they paid for me, and I got into a much better situation at Wolfsburg."
Now at Manchester City, De Bruyne opened up on the manic-like intensity of manager Pep Guardiola, and revealed the Spaniard's constant strive for perfection has rubbed off on the players.
He said: "Pep and I share a similar mentality. To be fair, he’s even more intense about football than I am. Because he is not just interested in winning. He wants perfection.
"The first meeting I ever had with Pep, he sat me down and he said, 'Kevin, listen. You can be — easily — a top five player in the world. Top five. Easily'.
"I was shocked. But when Pep said it with so much belief, it changed my whole mentality. It was kind of genius, I think. Because I felt like I had to prove him right, instead of prove him wrong."
De Bruyne added: "In the end, this project at City is about more than winning. It’s about a certain way of playing and an overall philosophy.
"So whether or not we achieve the impossible, this wave we’ve been on — it should be appreciated by anyone who truly loves football, I think. When we play our best at City, when we’re fluid it’s like … what’s the word for it? You know, when you meditate?
"Nirvana. It’s really like nirvana for me."