LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: Kevin De Bruyne of KRC Genk warms up during a KRC Genk training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on October 18, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Thanks to the weakness of Chelsea's wide play in the 2011/12 season, there's been plenty of speculation regarding Kevin de Bruyne's immediate future with the Blues. When he signed from Genk in January, it looked as though there was going to be a clear path open to him to reach the first team squad, but with the acquisition of Eden Hazard said path is now blocked by one of the most formidable young talents in Europe.
With Hazard on board (and presumably more to come later on) it starts to make sense to send de Bruyne out on loan. He's certainly good enough to serve as a depth player for Chelsea right now, but in order to develop, he needs game time, and using him on the bench a la Romelu Lukaku will probably stunt his growth. Fortunately, he realises that, because he's apparently open to a loan deal:
I won't feel down if I am loaned to a weaker team just to play. Chelsea have made a few transfers since I signed. Before these new arrivals it was agreed that I would join on 4th July and go on tour to the United States. I will then have the chance to prove myself and analyse my situation.
Source: Setanta Sports.
I think a loan to a decent team in a good league is probably the best way to play things at the moment. De Bruyne's a great talent, but the step up from the Jupiler League to Chelsea is huge, and it's far from clear that he has the physique to handle England just yet. Putting him in the Bundesliga might not be a bad move, and if Chelsea want to use a de Bruyne loan as a chit to acquire someone else (say, Bayer Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle), that'd be handy too.
De Bruyne just wants to play at as high a level as possible. That will mean a loan, and I hope we can find a good fit for him. The teams Chelsea send out their prospects to for next season will need to be researched very thoroughly - we can't have more repeats of Josh McEachran at Swansea City or Gael Kakuta at Bolton Wanderers. Getting the kids time should be one of the main goals of the summer.