De Bruyne has failed to cement a place in Jose Mourinho's starting XI, making just three appearances for the Blues.
Wilmots believes the 22-year-old Belgium attacking midfielder's progress will stagnate on the bench, and he should consider a move away if he cannot establish a first-team spot at the club.
"My request is that Kevin de Bruyne plays regular first-team football," Wilmots told Sport-BILD.
"Everyone knows what he is capable of."
Bundesliga side Schalke 04 are rumoured to be interested in de Bruyne and Wilmots believes a switch to Gelsenkirchen would be a smart move.
"Schalke is a special club for me and it would be great to see a player of this quality play for Schalke 04."
The German side's general manager Horst Heldt has refused to rule out a move for the midfielder, who spent last season on loan at rivals Werder Bremen.
"Kevin de Bruyne is a player that many clubs are about to consider," he said.