While Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal and Manchester United can lay claim to boasting the most impressive academy in European football, a special mention must go to Anderlecht.
Vincent Kompany, Youri Tielemans, Dennis Praet, Leander Dendoncker, Dodi Lukebakio and Romelu Lukaku all rose through the ranks at the Constant Vanden Stock and Yari Verschaeren now looks perfectly placed to follow in their footsteps.
At the age of 18, the fleet-footed forward has already established himself as a first-team regular at the sleeping giants of Belgian football. And, earlier this month, he was rewarded with a first international cap for a Red Devils side who are hardly suffering from a dearth of attacking talent.
Verschaeren has been labelled ‘the new Eden Hazard’ thanks to his penchant for carving through opposition defences like a knife through warm butter but, in the eyes of Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, the teenager more closely resembles Leicester City’s £40 million record signing.
“He reminds me of Yuri Tielemans,” the former Everton manager told News1 before handing Verschaeren his first cap in the recent 4-0 thrashing of Scotland.
"Belgian football as a whole must be happy to find such a talent. He is fantastic, a future ambassador for Belgian football.”
Tielemans, not to mention Kompany, Praet and Dendoncker, always looked destined to strut his stuff in one of Europe’s top leagues and it already feels like Verschaeren, too, won’t be sticking around at Anderlecht for long.
According to Anderlecht Online, Southampton have made Antwerp born play-maker a priority with a £13.3 million deal lined up ahead of the January transfer window.
If Verschaeren really is a mix of Hazard and Tielemans, Ralph Hasenhuttl will be drooling at the prospect of adding Verschaeren to an increasingly exciting Saints frontline.
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