Manchester United target Leander Dendoncker to be allowed to leave Anderlecht in the near future

Manchester United were linked to Anderlecht midfielder Leander Dendoncker late in the summer but a move did not materialise for the 22-year-old Belgian who caught Jose Mourinho’s eye in the UEFA Europa League last season after scoring a sublime goal against United in the first leg of the quarter-final in April. Dendoncker saw teammate Youri Tielemans leave the Belgian side to AS Monaco in the summer and with the speculation, it seemed that Dendoncker wanted to move to a better league than the Jupiler Pro League in Belgium.

It is being reported through quotes from Anderlecht sporting director Herman van Holsbeeck that the club were willing to sort out a future transfer for Dendoncker after confirming that the player’s head was elsewhere after speculation linking the player with the Old Trafford club. United had made an enquiry over the future of Dendoncker in the summer following his performances against Mourinho’s side, but the Portuguese manager did not firm up that enquiry, signing former Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic, his final signing of the summer, other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, of course.

The 6′ 2″ midfielder who has been a powerhouse at times, in the Belgian league anyway is valued at between £22 million and £31 million, which in the current market is a decent fee for a player with his entire career ahead of him. Van Holsbeeck has suggested that Dendoncker could follow Tielemans by leaving Anderlecht, which would be a blow for the club but in the past and seemingly heading into the future, they are not a club willing to hold a player back from reaching for his dreams in a bid to better himself, which is a good thing. Speaking to Sport/Foot and reported by the Manchester Evening News, Van Holsbeeck said:

“Dendoncker’s head was elsewhere.

“He showed his disappointment during training at not being transferred. His mate, Tielemans, went to Monaco, he was training with the national team and he wanted, like them, to play in the biggest leagues.

“Certain people in his entourage put pressure on me, on the club or on his agent, Christophe Henrotay.

“Today, we’re prepared to pay him based on his status of key player and to work on his future transfer like we did for Youri. In fact, we all have an interest in working together.”

Dendoncker has made 126 appearances since he made his Anderlecht debut in 2014, scoring ten goals, which for a defensive minded midfielder is not that bad – he is tasked to do other things than score goals, which is probably a reason why many supporters do not rate the player, seemingly looking at the number of goals scored like it means something. At the end of the current season, United will have the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, and Ander Herrera out of contract, seemingly with Mourinho seeking to keep hold of at least one of Fellaini and Herrera, maybe even both of them.

Michael Carrick may end up retiring at the end of the season. In the summer he signed a new one-year contract and was named the club captain, but is yet to feature for United this season, which may suggest he is not able to play as much as he has done over the years. Should Carrick leave the club at the end of the season, Dendoncker could fill the void left by the player, also fortify United for the future, allowing the Belgian to not be thrown in at the deep end with Matic still at the club, therefore giving him time to adapt to a tougher league and what is expected of a player in the Premier League.

Whether Mourinho and United feel the same is something that we shall find out either in January, which is the first possible chance United could strengthen, failing that it will be in the summer but with the FIFA World Cup in Russia and the closure of the summer transfer window happening before the first Premier League match next season, United could be left with little time to secure transfers, which may mean they need to sort them out during the season, with the formalities being tied up at the end of the season.

Manchester United handed boost in pursuit of Belgian midfielder

Manchester United have reportedly been handed a boost in an apparent pursuit of Anderlecht’s Belgian midfielder Leander Dendoncker this summer. Reports surfaced earlier in the summer, surfacing again a few days ago and now it is suggested that the player could leave the Jupiler Pro League champions this summer. Dendoncker would be a decent player for the future, one who could learn from Michael Carrick this coming season and perhaps from Nemanja Matic, who is close to a switch to the Old Trafford club.

United’s midfield and on the wing are problems Jose Mourinho wants to strengthen in this summer, stating he wanted a defensive minded midfielder and a winger. Matic seems to be nearing a move from Chelsea with reports beginning to suggest the transfer is imminent. A winger is still on the cards with Inter Milan’s Croatian winger Ivan Perisic on the club’s radar, but that has a few problems attributed to the possible transfer. Dendoncker, a player for now and for the future could demonstrate a good buy for the club.

Carrick turned 36 in the last week and Matic turns 29 in a few days time, both will do well at United through the coming season but the arrival of a player for the future, who could still add something to the squad this season would be a good move for United. Dendoncker would learn a lot from both Carrick and Matic. Anderlecht chief Herman van Holsbeek has suggested the club will sell the player this summer is a bid of between £20-£30 million comes in for the player, which does show value in the market. Van Holsbeek said:

“We want to cherish him, but if a club is willing to pay between €25million and €35m, we have a problem. Against Manchester United [in the Europa League], he has shown twice that he has the potential to play at a top European club.”

Dendoncker himself had something to say about Van Holsbeek’s comments suggesting that he would be open to a move to a Premier League club this summer, none are mentioned, but of course, Manchester United, who have already been linked to the player this summer, are the speculated club Dendoncker could sign for. With Matic and Carrick, the midfield, at least defensively would be severely strengthened, both for now and the future. Dendoncker said:

“If he [Van Holsbeek] wants to paste a price on my head, I can not change that much. I understand he wants me to stay and I understand the fans want me to stay. But it’s about my career. I have to make a decision that is best for his career.”

The Belgian midfielder established himself within the Anderlecht first team during the 2013/14 season, becoming a regular in the first team the following season. His last campaign will be his best for the club, playing 40 times, scoring five goals. Dendoncker has been pivotal to the team over the past year, helping them win the league and get as far as they did in the UEFA Europa League last season, seeing themselves knocked out at the hands of United, the same game both Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered injuries.

Leander Dendoncker a target for Manchester United as a defensive midfielder is sought

Manchester United seem to be linked to many names this summer, many more than Jose Mourinho’s lists which were handed to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward before the start of the summer could possibly have on them. The latest in a long time of player to be linked is Leander Dendoncker. Of course, the Belgian midfielder has been linked with United before, but now that speculation has continued after Mourinho confirmed that he still wants to sign two players this summer; a defensive minded midfielder and an attacking midfielder to play on the wing. United had been linked with Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic, Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier and a whole host of other midfielders this summer, even AS Monaco’s Fabinho, who was apparently not a target.

On the wing, United were initially interested in Antoine Griezmann, which led to Ivan Perisic, with the Croatian now seemingly off United’s radar of Inter Milan are to be believed. Dendoncker, an Anderlecht player and one who played against United twice in the UEFA Europa League back in April is now a player linked with United. The 22-year-old has played for his club 126 times and has starred, presumably why United have now been linked with him, whether the link is real or one created to write transfer related articles adding player names to the name Manchester United, which recently seems to be a winner for the media, who must be making a killing this summer. Who has United not been linked with this summer?

Dendoncker is tall at 6 ft 2 in, something United manager Mourinho likes in a player – United had been quite short in recent years until last summer when Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived, giving the much-needed height advantage at the back, along with Chris Smalling, the midfield and in the attack. Dendoncker was vital in Anderlecht’s Jupiler Pro League title win last season, anchoring the midfield and presumably now being an option for Mourinho. United had scouted Anderlecht throughout the last season, not only before United were drawn against them in the Europa League, but after that too. Even on Friday evening as the side opened their new season campaign.

Dendoncker is a strong tackler, good in the air and committed in his role, he can play in the defensive midfield role, sitting just in front of the back four, or even back three if Mourinho opts for that this coming season for some matches. The Belgian is a decent technical player too, able to switch roles, playing short and long accurate passes, using either foot, which is a bonus and is not afraid to shoot when he finds himself in a position to do so. The 22-year-old scored five goals last season for Anderlecht, which may not sound so great, but five from midfield for United last season could have helped turn some of the draws into wins, maybe even some of the defeats into draws.

Michael Carrick turned 36 on Friday, and with his one-year contract which was signed earlier in the summer, United will need to find a player to hand the reigns over to in the defensive midfield position. Ander Herrera played a similar role last season, but he is much better box-to-box, as he has shown and can also be utilised to mark creative players out of the game, as was shown against Chelsea seemingly keeping Eden Hazard out of the headlines, for the right reasons at least. Dendoncker seems to be a lot like Carrick in the way that he likes to pass forwards, creating an attack whenever he has the ball, which is what he should be doing, rather than keeping the ball and risking the opposition scoring. United could do well with a player like the Belgian.

Dendoncker has the vision to be a hit at a big club, seeing the passes which could be made, the creation of chances and the ability to read the game, which is something United have with both Carrick and Daley Blind, but having another player with this ability would not be a bad thing for United, especially in a season whereby Mourinho will be expected to lead his team to a Premier League title challenge, even suggesting he could lift the title with his club if things in the transfer market go well. United have spent over £100 million this summer bringing in Victor Lindelof from Benfica and Romelu Lukaku from Everton, but that could be stretched further should Mourinho get his wish and a defensive midfielder and a winger arrive before the season starts.

One disadvantage which Mourinho may see as a fault in Dendoncker is the fact he breaks forward, sometimes ahead of the ball to get into an attacking position, leaving his position open, possibly with a teammate having to cover for him, whilst doing what he needs to do, something which could be ironed out with the player learning his responsibilities at United, should the move materialise, which seems unlikely at this moment in time, but United have been watching someone and it could only be one of a few of a number of players. The Sun reported in a scouting report of the player that United had sent scouts to watch Anderlecht but also confirming that they are not the only club interested in the player with RB Leipzig and AC Milan amongst the interested parties.

The Mirror also reported the fact United had planned to scout Anderlecht against Royal Antwerp in the Jupiler Pro League season opener on Friday night, also confirming that RB Leipzig and AC Milan had planned the same. It seems to be early days right now. We know United are in the market for a defensive minded midfielder and a winger, so putting two and two together suggests that Dendoncker could well be a target here, although nothing has been confirmed at this moment in time, and probably never will, unless United make an offer for the player and a move transpires. United and the other clubs could well have had their eye on someone else too. The Sun suggest £34 million could be the price for Dendoncker, which shows value could be found in the market.

Anderlecht sporting director Herman van Holsbeeck has suggested a price he would be happy to sell Dendoncker for this summer, which would be even cheaper than the valuation carried by The Sun; £34 million. Van Holsbeek suggests the Belgian champions would demand €25-35 million for the player, which would be a maximum of £31.3 million, some great business this summer with prices being inflated across the continent. Speaking to Het Belang van Limburg, Van Holsbeek said:

“We want to cherish him, but if a club is willing to pay between €25million and €35m, we have a problem.”

copyright: JW