James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola appeared to reveal star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has a €250 million (£223 million) buyout clause in his contract in an interview, only to walk back the comment during a press conference on Friday.
The tactician initially spoke to Universo Valdano (h/t Goal Jamie Smith), heaping praise on De Bruyne and saying he was not for sale:
“He’s very good. He’s a very dynamic player.
“[Leeds United boss] Marcelo Bielsa told me he was his favourite player. He does everything.
“The other day, I met his parents and you often understand how the children are when you know the parents.
“He’s an incredible boy. The clause is €250 million. I’m sorry, he’s not for sale.“
The comments regarding the clause shocked several reporters, however, and when they pressed the coach on the subject on Friday, Guardiola clarified his comments, per Goal’s Sam Lee:
Sam Lee @Sammy_Goal
Guardiola says KDB does not have a release clause: “I don’t know what is his release clause. Jorge Valdano asked me if we would sell him for €250m and I said no. I don’t think he has a release clause.”
Per the original report, the 27-year-old signed a contract extension in January, committing his future to the Sky Blues.
A star prospect from Genk’s academy, De Bruyne was snapped up by Chelsea in 2012 but never made a major impact for the Blues. He impressed on loan at Werder Bremen and moved to Wolfsburg in January 2014, where he developed into a star playmaker.
His strong form saw him rewarded with a transfer back to England, joining City in the summer of 2015. De Bruyne has been a smash hit with the club, winning the City Player of the Year award on two occasions and one Premier League title.
According to former footballer Robbie Savage, the Belgian is part of the league’s best midfield unit:
Robbie Savage @RobbieSavage8
Fernandinho, Silva and De Bruyne 👌
I think Man City have the best midfield three in the league!
Tell me what you think for this week’s #SaturdaySav… https://t.co/BEIWULQbI5
There has been remarkably little transfer speculation surrounding De Bruyne the past two years, especially when compared to some of his international team-mates. Thibaut Courtois finally joined Real Madrid from Chelsea in the summer, and things are never quiet regarding Eden Hazard, either.
Back in July, the former Lille star launched the latest wave of speculation himself, per Het Laatste Nieuws‘ Kristof Terreur:
Kristof Terreur 📰 @HLNinEngeland
Eden Hazard: “After 6 wonderful years at Chelsea it might be time to discover something different. Certainly after this World Cup. I can decide if I want to stay or go, but Chelsea will make the final decision – if they want to let me go. You know my preferred destination.” #cfc https://t.co/mtuZAXIv9A
But unlike those two, De Bruyne has barely been discussed as a transfer target, and he has yet to give any indication he would be interested in a new adventure.
The Belgian is out with an injury and will be sidelined until November, according to Manchester Evening News‘ Stuart Brennan.