It was the second highest paid by a British club after Manchester United’s £59.7m signing of Angel Di Maria.
In the seven years that have passed, it’s proven to be an absolute bargain as De Bruyne has gone on to become one of the best players in world football, helping City to multiple trophies.
It seems crazy now that anyone would question that transfer fee considering what the Belgian has gone on to achieve in the game.
But cast your mind back to 2015 and De Bruyne was considered an expensive mistake.
English football fans remembered him from a failed spell at Chelsea earlier in his career where he started only five games – two in the Premier League and three in the League Cup – and was shipped out on loan to Genk and Werder Bremen.
Mourinho was more than happy to sell his permanently after just two years.
Therefore, Man City’s decision to sign him was met with a back page cover by the Mirror that read: ‘The £60m reject‘ before he’d even kicked a ball for the club.
The Mirror’s headline after Man City sign De Bruyne
How Soccer Saturday pundits reacted to De Bruyne signing
It wasn’t a one-off opinion either.
The signing was discussed by pundits – namely Phil Thompson and Paul Merson – on Soccer Saturday.
And the pair didn’t hold back what they thought of Man City splashing the cash on De Bruyne.
“The world is going mad,” Thompson began. “The amount of money they’re paying for this boy is just absolutely bonkers! He’s a good player, but is he a great player?”
Paul Merson was asked by Jeff Stelling if Jose Mourinho made a mistake by selling him for £18 million.
Merson replied: “I don’t think he got loads of chances, but he didn’t look part of the Chelsea way at the time. I think it was right for him to go. If you’re buying someone for eight million and selling him for a £10 million profit, it’s a no-brainer for me.
“There are some players you look at and think yeah’… I just don’t see this, I just don’t see £50-odd million for this player. I really do not see it at all.
“And this was someone who was at the top club in England, Chelsea, playing there, and it didn’t click.
“He’s played here before, at a top team with top players. Honestly Jeff I thought it was Lira, I did.”
“Absolutely bonkers.”— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 29, 2022
“Is he a great player?!”
“The world is going mad.”
“I just don’t see £50M for this player.”
What they said about @KevinDeBruyne, when he signed for #ManCity in 2015:pic.twitter.com/c5lnlGCISm
Looking back at those comments now is so awkward. There aren’t many opinions that have aged quite so badly than those, are there?
To be fair to Merson, he acknowledged he got it wrong six years later…
“I got it horribly wrong,” said Merson on Sky Sports. “But I was going by… I’m a Chelsea fan and I’d seen him at Chelsea and for one year in German football. I just didn’t think this would happen.
“If I hold my hands up and say I’ve got it wrong which I have done and said a hundred times there’d still be people writing about, ‘Oh Merse said this.’ I apologise. He’s brilliant, he’s unbelievable.”