A Barclays Premier League cast-out 19 months ago, Kevin De Bruyne soared to elite-hood quickly in Wolfsburg. The buildup play funneled around him everywhere he went, and he willingly shouldered the attacking responsibility. His footballing profile did not blossom as much as it exploded him into a new stratosphere, ballooning his statistics and rewarding him with Germany's Fußballer des Jahres award.
De Bruyne's ascendance at Wolfsburg spread through Europe like a fresh baked pie, the delectable aromas floating the noses of several top clubs in Europe. Bayern Munich was one salivating over his talent, but they were not sure enough to stomach the exorbitant fee the 24-year-old would undoubtedly cost. Rumblings surfaced the Rekordmeister would wait until next summer when Wolfsburg would perhaps be more willing to sell their prized attraction.
Manchester City took that opportunity right off their plate, hungry enough to part with €75 million to acquire him. They also gave him a six-year contract that will pay him a reported £170,000 per week (about €12.1 million per year).
The Rekordmeister missed out on having a taste of De Bruyne's exquisite talent, but their squad is still filled with the right ingredients to win. In fact, Bayern can let De Bruyne slip away to Manchester City without blinking.
Though the offer Manchester City put together is difficult for any club to outbid, Bayern has the financial muscle to pony up a package that would have at least enticed De Bruyne and Wolfsburg. Bayern would not pay that much for what could be just a side dish for them though. The transfer fee alone is nearly twice the size of Bayern's transfer record, and only Mario Götze's €97 million financial commitment even comes remotely close to what could be a €157 million Manchester City will have to relinquish for the Belgian.
The De Bruyne transaction by itself could nearly cover all of the business Bayern completed this summer. Combined with the Raheem Sterling acquisition earlier this summer, the two transactions required more capital than Bayern spent since Pep Gaurdiola became Bayern's manager. Though the gaffer has a lot of pieces he has to sort out in his squad, chances are he would rather have Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal in the same team rather than a player in De Bruyne he would have to consistently play.
There is also the growing recognition that Douglas and Vidal may fit into Bayern's squad than De Bruyne ever would. De Bruyne's offensive attributes are arguably at a higher level than most players on Bayern's roster, ones he can transpose to any side of the field. His contributions on the defensive end are very limited, and Dieter Hecking deployment of Luiz Gustavo and Joshua Guilavogui in midfield removed the need for De Bruyne to track back. Both Douglas and Vidal are above-average defending midfielders. Considering Douglas has four assists in three matches, he may shatter De Bruyne's 20-assist Bundesliga record while also winning balls on whatever flank Guardiola wants him.
Comparisons between De Bruyne and Douglas may be futile, for it was Mario Götze rumored to make room for the Belgian to move to Munich. Götze is earning a similar wage to what De Bruyne is, so a swap would only differ in transfer fees. Bayern are without a back-up center forward though, a position Götze is more suited for than De Bruyne. A swap may have left Bayern thin up top, a crucial area of the field Bayern need to challenge for titles.
Götze himself has trouble breaking into Bayern's team as it is, starting in only three of Bayern's five matches as it is. De Bruyne played a career high 4541 minutes with Wolfsburg last season in all competitions, and would probably receive 60 percent of that total with Bayern. Would Bayern be willing to pay through the nose for a player who may still not supplant the stars they already have?
De Bruyne is a player Bayern, and everybody, would and should want, but he is not a player Bayern need. Just because they came late to the table, that does not mean they are going to go hungry.