Football may be at a standstill, but don’t let that get in the way of an unknown 17-year-old being linked with two Premier League powerhouses and a handful of other clubs across Europe. You didn’t think that part of the game would stop too, did you?
The country from which the latest wonderkid hails from this time is Belgium, as Liverpool and Manchester City have been been linked with a move for Aster Vranckx. You know him, right?
What, you don’t know him? Well then it’s a good thing you’re reading this then, as soon enough you’ll be an expert in the rather niche category of up and coming Belgian starlets.
How to Pronounce His Name
Best address the elephant in the room straight away, although truth be told, it’s actually far simpler than you’d think.
The idea of having a rogue ‘x’ placed on the end of a name ending in ‘k’ might be peculiar to an English audience, but it’s actually fairly easy to pronounce.
Simply, say ‘Vranck’ and add an ‘x’ sound on the end. Good? Good.
A Youth International Regular
His talents have got the rest of Europe on red alert, but in his native Belgium, they’ve been fully aware of his capabilities for some time.
Vranckx has represented his country at Under-15, where his ability was picked up on quickly as he has since worked his way up towards Under-19 level, where he already has five caps.
Considering his rapid rise up the youth ranks, it’s likely his stay with the Under-19s will only be temporary.
Originally of Congolese descent, he holds dual citizenship with the nation along with Belgium having been born in the Flemish Brabant province of the country.
Offers Versatility in Midfield
Widely referred to as a simply a midfielder, Vranckx often tends to operate in a deeper role when playing for Mechelen. He is a player who likes to be involved in the play as much as possible, meaning he is happy to drop in just in front of the back four in order to gather possession.
That said, he would more commonly fit the bill of ‘box-to-box’. His ability on the ball is unquestionable, boasting neat close control and quick footwork that suits playing in the final third. One could say he is a ‘jack of all trades’ midfielder, but a move to a bigger club may see him moulded into his best position.
Nevertheless, demonstrating this much variety in his play at this stage of his career is part of the reason why he is such an exciting prospect to interested clubs. Versatility in midfield is always alluring, and something Premier League suitors City and Liverpool are known for. Hmm, I wonder why they’re interested?
He May Have Already Played His Last Game for Mechelen
While this is a predicament facing a plethora of players across Europe, the case is no different for Vranckx. Football was postponed in Belgium back in March, with the future of the 2019/20 season still undecided.
At the time it was halted, Mechelen were chasing a playoff place in the Belgian First Division, sitting in sixth place on goals scored with just one match left to play.
However, with a vote to come on 15 May to decide how the season should be (or not be) completed, there is every possibility that if the interested clubs make their move then he could have played his final game for the side.
His Top Flight Debut Came When He Was Just 16
His actual senior debut came in the Belgian Super Cup not one month before, but Vranckx got his first taste of top flight football in August 2019, roughly two months shy of his 17th birthday.
He started a crucial league fixture against Anderlecht in a holding midfield role, keeping a clean sheet for the entirety of his 52 minutes on the pitch. His next two league outings saw him brought off at half time, before slipped out of the senior picture.
Not until mid-January would he taste league action again, which is where he has started to earn rave reviews. Continuing in a defensive midfield role, he was moved further up the pitch to great effect, grabbing two assists and a goal in two matches, impressing ever since.
There is Interest From Outside the Premier League
Whereas Liverpool and City’s presence is now known, they aren’t the only potential suitors for the Belgian wonderkid.
Across Europe top clubs are taking note as AC Milan, Feyenoord, Juventus and Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern Munich have also been mentioned. The Italian duo’s names have been heard since back in March, although it is also claimed that Liverpool and City have been scouting Vranckx ever since he made his senior debut.
It is an almighty leap to leave the Belgian top flight for two of the Premier League’s top sides, therefore perhaps a move to Italy or the Netherlands is not completely off the cards. Granted, the Reds and Citizens pose more enticing options, but it could be a case of too much, too soon, in the youngster’s thinking.