LONDON, England, January 31 – Chelsea have signed Belgium international Kevin de Bruyne from Genk although the midfielder will spend the rest of the season on loan with the Jupiler League team, the English Premier League side said Tuesday.
The 20-year-old’s transfer deadline day capture means he becomes the latest Belgian player on Chelsea’s books, joining compatriots Romelu Lukaku anmd Thibaut Courtois, currently on loan at Spanish side Atletico Madrid.
No fee was disclosed but reports in Belgium have estimated the worth of the deal at eight million euros (£6.6 million, $10.5 million).
De Bruyne is a product of Genk’s academy, having signed as a 14-year-old.
Last season he helped Genk win their domestic league title and also made his Belgium international debut.
The left winger scored five goals in 22 games that term and twice featured against Chelsea in the Champions League. Genk were beaten 5-0 at Stamford Bridge but earned a 1-1 draw in Belgium.
De Bruyne, speaking to Chelsea’s website, said: “It’s a little bit of a dream come true. I’ve worked very hard and am still very young but have already played a lot of games. To come to a team like Chelsea is a dream but now it’s a reality and I have to work hard to achieve the level that’s necessary.”
Asked what his plan was for the rest of the season, he replied: “I signed now and now I will go back for six months on loan to play some games and gain more experience.
“Next season it would be normal to be loaned out, but I will start the preparations here at Cobham (Chelsea’s training ground), and if it goes really well maybe I will stay but probably it will be a team a little level less than Chelsea but bigger than Genk.”
Belgium is not renowned as one of Europe’s major international sides but several of their players are starting to make an impact across the continent.
“There are a lot of exciting young players coming up, people like Vincent Kompany at Manchester City, Thomas Vermaelen at Arsenal,” de Bruyne said.
“Eden Hazard is the best player in France and I think we will have a strong team for the next campaign. It’s nice to be a part of that and around it, but it’s also difficult to get into that squad. It is becoming a very good team.”