x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Villas-Boas undermined by Chelsea's move for Kevin De Bruyne

The Portuguese manager reveals he had no say in the move for Belgian winger.

Kevin De Bruyne was chosen as a transfer target for Chelsea by the club, rather than manager Ander Villas-Boas.
Kevin De Bruyne was chosen as a transfer target for Chelsea by the club, rather than manager Ander Villas-Boas.

The weakening grip on power that Andre Villas-Boas has at Chelsea was underlined yesterday as the club closed a £6.7 million (Dh38.2m) deal for a player not of their manager's choosing and who he may never have the chance to select.

Kevin De Bruyne, a 20 year old Belgium international, was in London to undergo a medical with the Premier League club.

The attacking midfielder will not play for Chelsea this season, instead being loaned back to Racing Genk for the first six months of a five and a half year deal. He will become the second significant acquisition of the January window made over the head of a manager whose first season in the position has become increasingly traumatic.

Villas-Boas has been open about his limited involvement in the acquisition of De Bruyne.

"It's a target that's decided by the club, that I knew about for quite some time," he said last week. "In the sense that it's the club policy for the future, it's the right thing, but it's down to the club in decision-making. I'm a manager who respects club policy.

"A club has to look to the future, whether it's with this manager or another. He's a good [player] for the future."

Already out of the running for the Premier League and fighting to retain Chelsea's place in the Champions League, the Portuguese coach had asked the club to sign a right-sided playmaker capable of going directly into his first team, drawing up his own list of targets.

Unsuccessful inquiries were made after Borussia Dortmund's Mario Goetze, and the cheaper option of Isaac Cuenca - who subsequently agreed improved terms at Barcelona - only for the club to propose a £16.8m bid for Willian. Currently with Shakhtar Donetsk, the twice-capped Brazilian was far from being the first choice of Villas-Boas for the position.

Chelsea's manager is also understood to have significant reservations about the technical qualities of Gary Cahill, the England defender bought from Bolton Wanderers for £7m two weeks ago.

The relatively low transfer fee and the club's struggle to meet home-grown-player regulations were both factors in the recruitment of an individual Villas-Boas had yet to use in a competitive fixture.

Meanwhile, Villas-Boas was today pondering whether to start John Terry or hand Cahill his Chelsea debut in tonight's Premier League game at Swansea City. Villas-Boas revealed after Saturday's FA Cup win at QPR that he had yet to decide whether Terry would travel to the Liberty Stadium less than 24 hours before the court case begins into allegations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand.

Chelsea and England captain Terry has started almost every game for club and country since he was first accused of using a racist slur against QPR's Ferdinand in October, something he denies.

Villas-Boas has no fear over Terry's state of mind ahead of his trial, but said the return of three-game weeks would influence his team selection.

Should Terry lead Chelsea out in south Wales, at least he can expect a handshake from every member of the Swansea team, an honour he was denied at Loftus Road on Saturday. That could also be a problem before Sunday's match against Manchester United if Rio Ferdinand were to start at Stamford Bridge.

Reports suggest Ferdinand is prepared to shake Terry's hand, something brother Anton was apparently not prepared to do this weekend.

* With agency