Leander Dendoncker, ready to step out of Youri Tielemans’ shadow
In the shadow of Youri Tielemans, at least in the media, Leander Dendoncker had an amazing season at Anderlecht. Tielemans his stats this season look more impressive than those of Dendoncker which would make you believe that he is also a better player. The truth is that Tielemans played much higher this season where Dendoncker bossed Weiler’s midfield. Anderlecht his head coach, Réne Weiler, is keen on a strong organisation. This is where Leander Dendoncker comes in.
Leander was for Anderlecht coach Weiler probably his most valuable player of the season. He did not miss one game in the Belgian competition and in their wonderful European campaign. He only missed one Cup game because of two yellow cards in the Cup game before. To make the story complete, he did not miss one minute in 40 competition games for his team. Amazing statistics for a player of still only 22 years old.
His biggest quality is his stamina. He has an amazing ability to run and even in the last minutes of a tough game you will see him running from his own box to the other. He will always try to keep it simple and always think about helping his team. Tielemans is known for his shots outside the box but Dendoncker his shooting is also one of his key weapons. Though, this season he was not that lucky as Tielemans. His positioning is very good for a player of his age which will only improve by playing more games. He surprises a lot of defenders with his infiltrations after a long run and his heading is also of a high standard and above all he is a very intelligent player.
Anderlecht received a record breaking transfer amount for Youri Tielemans. AS Monaco paid €25M for the talented midfielder but Anderlecht is keen to get even more for Leander Dendoncker. Partly because Anderlecht do not have to sell him because they already have a positive bank balance after Tielemans his transfer but mostly because Weiler would like to build a strong team around Sven Kums and Leander Dendoncker. Anderlecht will need a big squad after winning the Belgian Jupiler Pro League and thereby the qualification for the group phase of the Champions League.
Dendoncker got a bit struck in a difficult situation. He is grateful for the chances he gets from Anderlecht and the most important thing in his career now is to play as many games as possible. Anderlecht also plays in the Champions League next season and he is sure to play every game. At the other hand, he saw Tielemans leaving to AS Monaco and he thinks he is also ready for another step in his career. Anderlecht already told him they want him to stay. With Sven Kums replacing Youri Tielemans he is already sure that Anderlecht’s midfield will match the same standards as last season.
Dendoncker impressed some Premier League clubs in his game against Manchester United this season in the Europa League. Not only with his goal but with his hard work and professionalism. Some rumours are saying that Manchester United are interested in Leander Dendoncker but we all know that this would be a step too soon for the youngster. Certainly with José Mourinho as a coach. He would learn a lot from a coach like Mourinho but would not be given a lot of playing time. Though, Mourinho is keen on players with a work ethic like Anderlecht’s midfielder Dendoncker. An ambitious club aiming for one of the last spots for Europe in a big league would be a better step.
The talented youngster is also very close to a spot in Roberto Martinez’ squad for Belgium’s next big tournament in Russia. Martinez is a big fan of Youri Tielemans but already said that Dendoncker is also a part of his future plans. Staying at Anderlecht and playing a lot of games or joining a club in a bigger league, and end on the bench, could make a big difference for Dendoncker chances to play or be part of the squad at the World Cup in 2018.
He probably better stay for one more season. Anderlecht should renew his deal, which is now till 2021, and make him one of the best paid players at the club. He can replace Tielemans as the new prince of the Constant Vanden Stock Stadion. Playing another strong season will give him more options next season and with Sven Kums he will probably have more space to work on his attacking statistics next season. Not that this is something he needs to improve to make a next step in his career but he could discover wether he is a real defending midfielder or more a modern box-to-box.
Youri Tielemans took a wise decision and I am sure Leander Dendoncker will do the same. Wether he stays or not, he will make the right call. He already made clear to Anderlecht’s manager Herman Van Holsbeeck that he will make his choice when he thinks he is ready for it.