The sun might have set on Belgium’s golden generation, but the emergence of Arthur Vermeeren highlights their continued ability to produce high quality talent.
Vermeeren broke through the first team at Royal Antwerp in the second half of the last season. His action-packed displays saw him crowned the league’s Young Player of the Year, and helped Antwerp to a historic league and cup double.
The way the teenager has slotted into top level senior football has been remarkable.
In his first two Champions League games against Barcelona and Shakhtar, Vermeeren showed maturity beyond his years. He was great at recovering the ball, secure when he was on it and also made an impact in the final third with two assists, becoming the first Belgian player since Kevin de Bruyne to assist twice in a single Champions League game.
This week the midfielder added yet another milestone to an exceptional 2023, as he was called up to the senior Belgium squad for the first time.
Deep lying playmakers have been the most sought after profiles in the market recently, and his impressive performances have made Europe’s biggest clubs sit up and take notice.
Arthur Vermeeren Transfer Value (xTV) - how much is he worth?
According to FootballTransfer’s player valuation model, Vermeeren has a current Expected Transfer Value (xTV) of €15.2m. His xTV was only €400,000 at the start of the year, but has risen exponentially to mirror his growing status on the pitch.
Barcelona, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham have all reportedly been in contact for the midfielder, and a move as early as January might be on the cards. But making a big move too early can hamper his development.
Antwerp are under no pressure to sell either, and know that they have an asset that will continue to grow in value. Spending another season in Belgium might just be the best decision for all.
Arthur Vermeeren strengths and weaknesses - what does the data say?
Vermeeren has a profile that is very well suited to the modern game. He can both dictate the game and break up play at a very high standard, making him excel in that deeper midfield role.
Even against a high press, the 18-year-old shows the technique and spatial awareness to turn away from pressure when receiving the ball from the centre backs.
The right-footed midfielder can also set the tempo and control games by himself. He uses a great passing range to make almost 60 passes per 90 at an excellent 87.9% accuracy. This includes a good range of forward passes at various angles and distances.
The way Vermeeren uses his body also helps him shield the ball under pressure and makes him a very effective screen for his defence. At 1.80 metres, he might not be the biggest player on the pitch, but his positioning and tenacity sees him consistently break up play and win the ball.
Vermeeren’s defensive game always stood out, but a big change this season has been his impact in the final third. The Belgian is now making more key passes and passes into the final third per 90 minutes than he did last season.
This has seen him contribute five assists in 15 games this season, compared to just two throughout the previous campaign. His ball carrying is also something that has improved - with 2.43 carries into the final third P90 ranking very high compared to positional peers in the league.
As WhoScored points out, Vermeeren has a very wide skill set and the only major weakness is his aerial ability. However, his intelligence and mobility will see him overcome that deficiency.
Vermeeren was already one of the best midfielders in Belgium Pro League, but we are witnessing him transform into one of the most complete young midfielders in Europe.
Playing in a lower profile league has meant that he has gone a bit under the radar, but the more you watch him play the more certain you become about his rise to the very top of the game.
This article was provided by FootballTransfers