Burnley have set the Championship on fire this season and Vincent Kompany has been the catalyst of it all as they sit on the summit of the secondary tier of English football, on course for the Championship title and more importantly, an automatic promotion to the Premier League, only a season after getting relegated.
With one eye on the return to Premier League, Kompany & his men at arms has already initiated identifying potential targets that could help the club in a grueling season in the top-flight and in their quest for survival.
One such target for the Clarets is Dutch goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen, who is currently plying his trade for RSC Anderlecht in the Belgian First Division. His name will be a familiar one for Burnley fans, having followed him closely during the summer. He was close to a move to Turf Moor some eight months ago in a £5 million deal. However, the deal ultimately collapsed and the 20-year-old keeper stayed in Belgium for another season.
Now, the Anderlecht man has courted interest from various top clubs thanks to his stellar season so far. With many Premier League clubs looking for a new shot-stopper, Verbruggen’s name has cropped up on a few lists. The young keeper is just a couple months into his role as a starter, having replaced the experienced Hendrick van Crombrugge, and has quickly won over fans as well as pundits with his brilliant displays. In 13 appearances in the league so far, the Dutchman has kept 6 cleansheets and conceded only 13 goals. His contribution has been vital in helping the Belgian club secure qualification to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Conference League.
Described as a modern keeper, he has earned praise from his manager and teammates this season. Anderlecht coach Brian Riemer was effusive in applauding his keeper when quizzed about him. Riemer expressed appreciation for his keeper, praising the level-headedness and maturity the youngster has shown between the sticks. “Bart plays with the charisma of a goalkeeper who has already played more than 300 matches at the highest level,” said Reimer. Verbruggen’s teammate, the veteran Jan Vertonghen also highly praised the keeper saying he has all the makings of being one of the top and best goalkeepers in Europe.
Pundits have highlighted his passing range and athleticism in games, attributes that are essential in any modern keeper. Kompany, a follower of Pep Guardiola’s philosophy, demands that his goalkeepers be good with their feet and be a part of the build-up. He needs his keepers to execute long and short passes with accuracy, something that Verbruggen excels in, as evident from his displays so far.
Burnley manager Vincent Kompany has had a brilliant impact on the Clarets in only his first season as coach in English football, completely transforming the club’s playing style and bringing in a stylish, winning mentality to the squad. Gone are the days it seems where the Lancashire outfit used to rely solely on long balls and crosses into the box, instead they now construct slick passing moves with a lot of attacking intent. Young Verbruggen would fit into his playing style seamlessly, and the keeper is intent on moving to England, having spoken out about his admiration for the league and Kompany himself. The Dutchman has insisted that he would benefit a lot from playing under the Burnley manager as well as the Burnley goalkeeper coach Jelle ten Rouwelaar.
The 20-year-old received his first call up to the national team this week, although it is unlikely he will make an appearance yet. However, he is on the right track and with the right coaches and team around him, Verbruggen could go on to be one of the best in the world. He is valued at a £11 million, his price having risen from last summer thanks to his incredible displays. It will be an intriguing next few months ahead and it remains to see who wins the race for the highly-rated keeper.
Everything mentioned above are just vague statements highlighting how perfect Bart Verbruggen is, but we are going to step a bit deeper into him and what he brings to the table. Lifelong Anderlecht fan Ket or who many of you may know as @rscafrns on Twitter to let Burnley fans know more about Verbruggen and what to expect of him, if he were to sign at Turf Moor.
Welcome, first of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where does the love for Anderlecht come from?
My dad has loved Anderlecht since the 80’s and made me watch Anderlecht games and even documentaries since I was a child, when I was nine, he took me to my first Anderlecht game in the Champions League, since then i’m a passionate fan of Anderlecht.
So, Lets get into it. How has Bart Verbruggen acclimated to life as first choice and what’s the season been like for him?
He already had some experience as a starter as he played 6 games in the play offs in the 20-21 season, also him being the first choice for our B team in second division helped him get the needed experience.
What sort of personality does he possess in-between that frame? Is he more of a calm guy who quietly does his job or someone who is loves to get involved in everything.. like say Emi Martinez or Aaron Ramsdale?
He’s a very calm guy, handles pressure very well, especially at his age. He will quietly do his job but he’s not scared of taking a risk to get the attention.
How will you describe Bart Verbruggen as a keeper? Is he more of a sweeper-keeper?
Incredible goalkeeper at his age, adapts to every situation without any problems and he will be very comfortable by going to that halfway line.
He looks like a strong figure, what’s he like in duels and general commanding of his area?
He’s a great leader in his area, he will even command 35-year-old Jan Vertonghen to do what he needs to do, losing duels is a no-go for him.
Can you breakdown some of his skills & strengths, to help us understand Bart more?
His footballing ability is very great, some say that high balls are his weakness but he improved alot on that to even make it his strength. Very calm goalkeeper which I personally think is important to give your defenders even more confidence, his reflexes are also out of this world.
How is he on the technical side of things? What’s his ball-playing ability like?
His ball playing ability is good but there is some work to do on his goal kicks, goes wrong sometimes and thats dangerous but normal passes, even with top strikers pressuring him, are no problem for Bart.
So, does he like to keep it safe more so than looking for risks when playing the ball out?
It depends, sometimes he waits until the last second, sometimes he just plays it wide. He more often looks for risks to impress everyone, and it always works.
And, what according to you are things where he needs to improve at?
Goalkicks, as I mentioned before they sometimes end up in the feet of the opponents midfield, it will definitely improve by time.
Ofcourse, having yourself seen Vincent Kompany and his style of play – how do you think he will fit in at Burnley?
Kompany himself brought him to Anderlecht so I don’t think there’s a better match on this planet. His footballing abilty is what Kompany likes and it’s also the Burnley or the Vincent Kompany style, perfect fit. Let us enjoy him for a bit longer though 😉
That’s all from Anderlecht’s very own Ket, make sure you follow him on Twitter @rscafrns for more Anderlecht & Bart Verbruggen updates. I thank him once again for doing this interview with us, it was a brilliant insight into who Bart is as a player and his season so far. More articles like this coming on PremierLeagueNewsNow, stay tuned.