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RSC Anderlecht midfielder Leander Dendoncker’s stock is on a rapid rise. The 22-year old has established himself as a key member of the Belgian side after another strong season, where he helped the club win the Belgian Jupiler Pro League and progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
Recently, reports emerged that English heavyweights Manchester United were monitoring the talented midfielder and that they had sent a scout to watch him in action as they were mulling over making a move for him (Metro). Not just United, several other European clubs have had their eyes on Dendoncker’s progress at Anderlecht.
With so much attention and excitement surrounding the Belgian, we take a closer look at who Leander Dendoncker is and what makes him a special talent.
Born in Passendale, Belgium, on 15 April, 1995, Dendoncker joined the academy of local club FC Passendale in 2001 as a six-year old kid. Having spent a couple of years there, he moved on to KSV Roesalere in 2003, where had a six-year spell after which the Anderlecht academy snapped him up in 2009.
Having spent three years with the academy, Dendoncker got called up to the U19 side in 2012 and a year later he broke into the first team, making his debut as a substitute in July 2013 in the Belgian Supercup triumph against KRC Genk. He made another appearance in the Belgian Cup in the senior team, but spent most parts of the season with the reserves.
The midfielder became a regular part of the first team from the 2014/15 season, when he went on to make 38 appearances, scoring twice. He came back with similar returns in the subsequent season, with 2 goals and an assist from 30 games. Last season was Dendoncker’s best in terms of goals, as he finished with 6 goals in 57 games across all competitions, playing an important role in Anderlecht’s success.
A regular at all youth levels for the Belgian national team, the 22-year old made his debut for the Belgium senior side back in June 2015 and has played twice till date.
A central midfielder who has been used in various roles, it wouldn’t be wrong to say Dendoncker is a jack of all trades. The Belgian international has been used as an an out and out defensive midfielder mostly, but has played as an orthodox no.8 or even as a centre-back on quite a number of occasions.
Standing tall at 6ft 2in, he poses a daunting presence in the middle of the park and has the strength to brush opponents off the ball. He uses his height and physicality to very good advantage, both while defending and attacking set-pieces, making him an asset in such situations.
A tenacious tackler and a top-class reader of the game, Dendoncker can sit in front of the backline and break up play all day long, offering a steely nature to the midfield. What makes him more appealing is the fact that he has an excellent range of distribution which he puts to use with good effect, soon after reclaiming possession, to launch swift counter-attacks from deep within his own half.
His two-footed nature is another added advantage, and he also likes to drive forward with the ball at his feet with every chance he gets and can hit a mean shot at goal from distance too. But it his passing, vision and his intelligence when on the ball that make him a stand-out talent.
Anderlecht have a rich history of producing gems on a consistent basis and Dendoncker is next in line of the endless supply chain. Just 22 years of age, he has gained a lot of experience and has shown all the things necessary to become a complete midfielder.
United’s interest may subside after they brought in Nemanja Matic from Chelsea, but there have been reports of interest from PSG in the midfielder, along with Everton and RB Leipzig as well (The Sun). Having already sold one of their midfield mainstays, Youri Tielemans, to AS Monaco, Anderlecht may not be as willing to let go of Dendoncker, but a big offer will get them thinking.