LEANDER DENDONCKER (ANDERLECHT, Belgium)
Position: Defensive Midfielder/Centre-Back
2016/17 stats: 57 games (16 of which in Europe) (5137 minutes) – 6 goals – 0 assists – 6 yellow cards – 1 red cards
The Belgian champions Anderlecht won the title in the 2016/17 season because of their outstanding stability in the middle of the park and many probably overlooked the major contributions made by the extremely consistent in his solid displays inner midfielder Leander Dendoncker. The 22-year-old box-to-box player formed a formidable partnership with his friend Youri Tielemans, they grew together through the junior ranks of Anderlecht, but it was somehow the latter that was attracting all the attention. Tielemans already completed a multimillion move to Monaco.
Dendoncker might have been left out of the spotlights for most of this campaign, but everyone that knows football and watched his displays must recognise how important and impressive they were. Aged just 22 Dendoncker played in 57 matches this last season, including 16 in European competitions. This great achievement also confirmed the already known fact that his fitness is very good and he is not prone to injuries. His main role is to protect the back four, but also to start the attacks and keep the ball when this is needed. Dendoncker is very good in all of these things as his instincts to position himself on the pitch are next to none, he has excellent tackling skills, his passing at short distance is near perfect, plus his forward passes regularly release teammates in space.
Greatly matured for his tender age, Dendoncker has been part of Anderlecht’s senior squad for four years now, he also started showing much more intent when going forward this season. For a player whose main job is to help the defenders and slot in the back line when one of them venture forward Dendoncker can be really satisfied with his six goals scored in 2016/17. He is improving quickly his shooting ability from middle and long distance, plus his height and agility make him a threat at set pieces.
The other great thing about Dendoncker is that as a junior he was used a lot in the heart of the defence and if it is needed he can fill that position with great success. This versatility and his undisputable talent make Leander Dendoncker one of the names that very soon will be on everyone’s lips and the only question is which of the big teams will recognise his talent first and sign him!!!
The thing that is certain is that Dendoncker’s price tag will only be moving upwards and those with an eye for a bargain need to act quickly.