RSC Anderlecht brought in Jan Vertonghen. A solid transfer. Georges Leekens knows the 35-year-old defender all too well. Our editors asked the ex-coach for his opinion about the transfer from Vertonghen to Anderlecht.
At Benfica Vertonghen was sidetracked and at Anderlecht wants to play very often. “Of course I know Jan well and he is a proud boy, so it is no surprise that he has left Benfica. He can also be justifiably proud of the career he has already completed with his passages at Ajax, Tottenham and Benfica, where he has always made a big impression. Last year he was still very good at Benfica”, opens Leekens.
Vertonghen will be viewed with suspicion in Belgium. After all, he will be regarded as a star here. “I think it’s great that he is taking up the challenge in Belgium, because that’s what it is. He has never played in the Belgian league and he could have easily made his money for another year at Benfica. But Jan is a real winner who still has likes to play football too much It was the perfect time to watch Anderlecht because we shouldn’t be playing around the pot: the World Cup is definitely in play. As a coach it will be difficult to draft a player who might not be in action for months come.”
Vertonghen has to give direction to the young Anderlecht group. In that area, according to Leekens, he will be a golden transfer. “He is an absolute added value for Anderlecht, because he is going to be a great guide for those young boys. Jan is a very pleasant boy in the dressing room, but he has learned a lot in Amsterdam. It is not easy for him as a young guest there and he will certainly keep the youngsters of Anderlecht on their toes. RSCA needed such a type of player and with his winning mentality and qualities he will certainly make an impression. It is an enormous added value for Belgian football that boys like Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Boyata are coming to play here too. It’s good news for Martinez too, of course.”
NEED FOR COMPETITION
However, Felice Mazzu will also have to make decisions. Who will be the victim? Hannes Delcroix or Wesley Hoedt and will these guys still be satisfied? “Look, there must be competition at Anderlecht. If certain guys are not going to be satisfied after Vertonghen’s arrival, they do not belong at a club like Anderlecht. At RSCA they have always had a lot of competition in the past and I am “I think they definitely needed someone extra in defense. Who plays then is decided on the field. The best will play and that’s how it works at a top club.”
Vertonghen and Diawara bring a lot of experience. Together with Hendrik Van Crombrugge, Wesley Hoedt, Michael Murillo, Adrien Trebel and Lior Refaelov, these are already more experienced pawns and that was necessary. “It is a good thing that Anderlecht have added a lot of experience to the core with Diawara and Vertonghen. You have to give young people a chance, but there has to be a good balance between experience and youth and there is now a lot more. Anderlecht needed extra quality at the back and in midfield.”
RSCA expressed great ambitions for the season, but a title seems a bit ambitious with this selection. What may RSCA’s ambition be after the arrival of Diawara and Vertonghen?
“Whether they play with Diawara and Vertonghen for the title? Look, I think Mazzu is the ideal successor to Kompany. Although I would like to emphasize that Vincent (Kompany, ed.) has done unique work in recent years with a core that is certainly not impressive. They were lucky that Vincent was there, or perhaps several trainers had passed in review. Anderlecht owe it to their stand to go for the prizes and you have to express your ambitions as RSCA. But I have to say that if they are in finish in the top three, then they have had a fantastic season. Don’t forget that teams like Club Brugge and Antwerp have not been idle and don’t underestimate KRC Genk. Vrancken is doing a fantastic job there.”
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