Despite Bayern Munich’s unrelenting one-horse race to retain their league crown, the German top flight continues to entertain this season. Last weekend’s fixtures delivered a staggering 39 goals and some cracking see-saw encounters, not least Wolfsburg’s 5-4 away win at Bayer Leverkusen.
With Wolfsburg sitting pretty in the lofty position of second, the side’s undoubted star player this term has been Kevin De Bruyne.
The 23-year-old Belgian has excelled under Hecking in a wide attacking role this season, which affords him the freedom to both create and take up goalscoring positions.
This deployment has had a sensational impact for the team from the Volkswagen Arena. Despite trailing in Bayern’s wake by eight points, Wolfsburg sit clear of the chasing pack by the same margin, making them hot favourites for Champions League qualification.
The former Genk playmaker is leading the Bundesliga assists table with a tally of 12 and has also netted eight times in 2014-15, making him arguably the league’s top performer outwith the Bayern ranks.
The quality of the Belgium international’s performances will have raised eyebrows across Europe and especially in West London, where Chelsea fans will be wondering why De Bruyne was given so few opportunities during his time at Stamford Bridge.
The 23-year-old has illuminated German stadia before. De Bruyne spent the 2012/13 season on loan at Werder Bremen and gained a stellar reputation in the Bundesliga that should have been enough to see him given a chance at Stamford Bridge.
His actual game time in the Chelsea blue was limited to less than three hours under a ruthless José Mourinho.
Since returning the Portuguese has refined a tactic including three attacking midfielders behind a loan frontman in his 4-2-3-1 formation.
Despite the fluidity of the system, De Bruyne could not be accommodated.
The manager’s choices for the three spots saw an established Premier League star in Juan Mata fail to make the cut. De Bruyne, an emerging talent, had no option but to move on.
The Belgian was only afforded two starting XI opportunities during his time on the West London club’s book’s, with his final outing a 0-0 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
In a dull encounter, the Belgian’s lack of penetration seemingly saw him fail Mourinho’s audition and the midfielder was frozen out before securing a deal to move to Wolfsburg last January.
Mourinho’s loyalty to his existing attacking trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian, plus the January arrival of Juan Cuadrado, has now also seen André Schürrle follow De Bruyne’s path to Northern Germany.
The World Cup winner now links up with his former Chelsea team-mate in Hecking’s attack, with the the pair and Bas Dost being labelled ‘the Magic Triangle’ in some corners – in honour of Stuttgart’s prolific forward line of the same name from the 1990’s.
The coach, who joined from Nürnberg, is assembling a potent attacking side that look destined for second place and a shot in next season’s Champions League.
Die Wölfe can continue to gather European experience this week, as Sporting Lisbon are expected to be devoured in Lower Saxony in the Europa League.
No one in the German side’s ranks seems hungrier than De Bruyne, who already has three Europa League goals this term. The 28-cap international is full of confidence and few would bet against him adding to his tally against the Portuguese visitors.
Wolfsburg’s ascent from 11th place in 2012-13 to fifth last year was noteworthy enough, and with the Volkswagen Arena side continuing to delight onlookers with their expansive style of play, the sky is seemingly the limit for the club and their star man De Bruyne.
Given that Chelsea were big enough to bite the bullet and admit their mistake in letting Nemanja Matić go, only to resign him and make him a key player in their side, what are the odds that the diminutive Belgian schemer could end up back at Stamford Bridge in the future if he keeps up his recent exemplary form?