Our friends at Football Whispers look at why the Belgium star is the type of anchorman Old Trafford chief Jose Mourinho loves
MANCHESTER UNITED have already bolstered their midfield with Nemanja Matic but a deal for Leander Dendoncker could be back on the cards after the Belgian’s agent revealed his client wants to leave Anderlecht.
Jose Mourinho got a good look at the 22-year-old first hand last season, scoring as the Red Devils beat Anderlecht en-route to winning the Europa League.
A central midfielder may no longer be top of Mourinho’s wish-list but the chance to sign one of the most highly-rated prospects out of Belgium – particularly with skipper Michael Carrick turning 36 this season – could be too good to turn down.
Our friends at Football Whispers are on hand to profile the highly-rated Belgian.
Who is Leander Dendoncker and where does he come from?
Dedoncker joined the youth ranks of Anderlecht aged 14 after impressing with local side Rosalere, based in his native West Flanders region of Belgium.
An international at all youth levels, Dedoncker was earmarked for a bright future in the game from an early age as he progressed through the academy ranks of the 34-time Belgian champions.
A senior debut came as a teenager in the 2013/14 season, but it wasn’t until the following campaign that he became a regular feature of the first-team under manager Besnik Hasi, who is now in charge of Greek champions Olympiacos.
The 22-year-old has gone on to rack up more than 100 appearances for Anderlecht as well as earning two full international caps for his country. He was a vital cog in his club’s Jupiler Pro League title win last season, anchoring midfield while also chipping in with five goals.
Stylistically, the Passendale-born player appears to be exactly the kind of midfielder Mourinho prefers.
At 6ft 2ins, he satisfies the physical requirements of the United manager. He is strong in the air and a committed tackler, and can sit in front of the backline and break up play thanks to his mature reading of the game.
In addition to his size and defensive acumen, he is also a gifted technician, capable of switching play with accurate, long-distance passes off either foot, and he strikes the ball hard and true when in sight of goal.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Dendoncker’s game is his intelligent use of the ball. Much like new United captain Carrick, whenever in possession his first thought is always to move his team forward.
His vision allows him to invariably locate a team-mate in space and his technique sees him pick them out over all ranges.
If there is one tendency of Dendoncker’s that will be of concern to Mourinho it will be the player’s habit of breaking ahead of the ball to get into offensive positions. He does this with relative caution, however, and doesn’t just abandon his station without ensuring there is adequate cover.
But his remit, should he move to Old Trafford, would be to hold the fort and allow Paul Pogba the freedom to push forward. So such forays will have to be curtailed.
Dendoncker came to the attention of most United fans with his performances against the Red Devils in the knockout stages of the Europa League last season. The Premier League side ultimately progressed but the Belgian, who scored a bullet header in the first leg at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, stood out.
What is his most likely destination?
United have sent scouts to run the rule over Dendoncker with a view to potentially making an offer for the player, but the 20-time champions of England are not the only interested party.
Bundesliga high-fliers RB Leipzig and big-spending AC Milan are also thought to be hot on his tail.
How much will he cost?
Having already lost one prodigious midfielder this summer in Youri Tielemans, who joined French champions Monaco, Anderlecht will be reluctant to part ways with Dendoncker and are believed to want at least £34million.
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