Manchester United are keeping tabs on Arthur Vermeeren and the Royal Antwerp ace admits that there is truth to the suggestions that his playing style is like that of Spanish legend Andres Iniesta.
The road from Old Trafford to Antwerp was one particularly well-travelled in the early-to-mid 2000s.
John O’Shea, Fraizer Campbell, Dong Fangzhuo and Luke Chadwick were among those who enjoyed loan spells at the Belgian outfit two decades ago. Until now, however, this particular ‘road’ has been less of a dual carriageway and more of a one-way street.
Is Arthur Vermeeren the Belgian Andres Iniesta?
As Belgium’s Golden Generation becomes more akin to an ‘Olden Generation’, Vermeeren is – like Charles de Ketelaere, Romeo Lavia and co – a rising talent many hope will bring about a transition from towards a bright new era.
“All the compliments are justified,” Antwerp goalkeeper Jean Butez explains to RTBF. “He has pretty incredible calmness and maturity. He still has to learn how to be effective in the important moments of the match. But, seeing him on a daily basis, he’s a great talent.
“Belgium are lucky to have this kind of talent.”
Given that Vermeeren’s most striking attributes are his balletic footwork, his almost supernatural vision and his remarkable composure in possession, comparisons with a man who made the Barcelona clock tick during over a decade of dominion are not only inevitable but accurate too.
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“Every comparison is difficult, because every player is different,” Vermeeren tells Gazet Van Antwerpen.
“(Andres) Iniesta is one of the best midfielders ever. I’m not there yet. But I am the same type of player.”
‘World at his feet’
Vermeeren, like fellow youngsters Otto Rosengren, Rasmus Hojlund and Bart Verbruggen, would be a signing with the future in mind but the present too. Someone capable of padding out Erik ten Hag’s squad, while honing his talents under the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro with a view to nailing down a starting spot somewhere down the line.
“That boy has a lot of quality,” adds Vincent Janssen, the former Tottenham Hotspur forward who now plays alongside Vermeeren at the Bosuilstadion.
“Enough is being said about him these days. For me, he is just a very big, upcoming talent. The boy runs for everything and he also tackles. He even picked up a yellow card (in a recent Jupiler League match), and I thought that was nice. That hard work must come in.
“As I say, that boy has the world at his feet.”