Chelsea must be wary another De Bruyne doesn’t slip the net

Chelsea fans won’t want reminding of the club’s blunders in allowing young talents to leave only for them to excel elsewhere, with Manchester City world beater Kevin de Bruyne the most galling example.

De Bruyne was named 2014/15 Bundesliga Player of the Year just 18 months after Chelsea allowed the Belgian midfielder to join Wolfsburg and having made such an impact for a Premier League rival this season, even the calmest of Blues enthusiasts will be riled.

Seeing a player deemed undeserving of regular first-team football at Chelsea bought for £32m more than he fetched might be easier to accept as a freak case, if the sense of history repeating wasn’t so strong.

Although Daniel Sturridge’s chronic injury troubles have since reduced the embarrassment of his £12m sale to Liverpool, the striker’s 25-goal haul for the Reds so soon after leaving the Bridge in 2013/14 highlighted a bizarre decision nonetheless.

If Sturridge’s success hadn’t sounded the alarm bells, then failing to reward Romelu Lukaku’s rapid development in separate loan spells at West Brom and Everton with a slot in the team, was baffling.

Chelsea may have recouped £28m for Lukaku from Everton, but now the marauding striker has bagged seven more Premier League goals than Diego Costa by the end of January, with the Blues languishing in 13th, it’s still a questionable sale at best.

With Chelsea scratching around for answers to this season’s myriad woes, an eye-catching Capital One Cup cameo from one of their own, may just have got some down the King’s Road feeling twitchy again.

Marko van Ginkel is 18 months younger than De Bruyne and like the Belgian arrived as a very promising, goal-scoring midfield talent from Europe – this time from feeder club Vitesse in Holland, rather than Genk.

Just as De Bruyne struggled for chances at Stamford Bridge so has Van Ginkel, who is now in his second loan spell away from Chelsea, this time at Stoke, whom he very nearly won their semi-final second leg for after being introduced as a late substitute at Anfield in midweek.

While it might be naive to suggest striking a post and looking bright in extra time, among tired Liverpool legs, is an accurate compass of a talent which could match that of De Bruyne, Van Ginkel’s well-timed bursts in behind the defence showed intelligence.

Van Ginkel has been in and out of Mark Hughes’ slick Stoke side since arriving at the Britannia Stadium but when he has featured (20 times) the club’s win percentage is up to 50 per cent, while it’s down to 30 per cent without him.

There is much to admire about his game. The 23-year-old Dutch international has two good feet, a fine range of passing and at 6ft 1”, he is not bullied in the English top flight.

There is much room for improvement, especially in rediscovering the scoring touch he showed at Vitesse.

But if he continues to shine for the Potters then whoever is Chelsea boss by the summer should heed the lessons of recent errors.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.