Sereyo Bekkink is a law student, football fan and journalist. He has a keen eye for talent and writes about them in the Dutch language on his website Tempohopper. Here on TPA you will find the English version of these articles.
This weeks U21 Talent
Name: Yari Verschaeren
Age: 17 (12 july 2001)
Position: Attacking midfielder / central midfielder
Height: 1,72 metre
Feet: Two footed (slight preference for right)
Sometimes you have those talents that people already talked about for years, without them even having made their debut in the first team. Yari Verschaeren is one of those talents. Creative, phenomenal technique and mentally very strong. That’s how most people describe Verschaeren. This is the story of a player that made his debut in the first team of RSC Anderlecht at the age of 17, and no one knows what’s the ceiling of this player.
Yari Verschaeren started his football career at KJB Kruibeke when he was 7 years old. Soon after he started, he got scouted by Waasland-Beveren. After 2 years in the academy of Waasland-Beveren, RSC Anderlecht discovered his talents and Verschaeren made the move to the Academy of RSC Anderlecht, considered by many as one of the best academies in the world.
And they train like that. Verschaeren made long days during his years in the academy of RSC Anderlecht. He got picked up by the van of the club at 6 am and arrived back home at 9 pm. Obviously, Verschaeren did not only train during these hours but also went to school. Verschaeren went to a school that took into account the football career of Verschaeren. Because of this, Verschaeren only missed 3 hours of lectures during his training hours. Verschaeren and his parents really value good education and Verschaeren is currently doing a Mathematics and economics study, this is one of the hardest studies in Belgium.
On the day of his 16th birthday, Verschaeren signed his first pro contract at RSC Anderlecht. He became the youngest player with a professional contract at RSC Anderlecht ever. And there is a reason that RSC Anderlecht signed him a contract as soon as he was eligible. Year after year, Verschaeren was the best of his team and impressed everyone working at the academy. Not only did he stood out during national games, but Verschaeren also made a name for himself at international tournaments. He became player of the tournament of the prestigious Future Cup (hosted by AFC Ajax) when he was 15 years old. Fun fact, the future cup is a tournament for players until 17.
Before his 16th birthday, Verschaeren got approached by multiple European teams, one of them was PSV. Verschaeren even went to Eindhoven for a meeting, but his love for RSC Anderlecht was strong enough to stay.
When you’re a promising midfielder in the youth academy of RSC Anderlecht, People start with comparisons with former youth academy midfielders real quick. So, of course, this happened with Verschaeren. It’s easy to lose focus when you get compared with Dennis Praet (current player of UC Sampdoria) and Youri Tielemans ( AS Monaco on loan at Leicester City) every single day. But as mentioned in the introduction, one of Verschueren's strong points is his mentality, so he never lost focus on his ultimate goal: Playing at Astridpark. (Astridpark is the stadium of RSC Anderlecht)
Verschaeren already trained with the first squad regularly, but until this season didn’t got a shot because Anderlecht got some experienced midfielders and Verschaeren wasn’t physically
ready. But Anderlecht started this season terribly, and due to injuries and bad performances of the other midfielders Verschaeren got his shot. Verschaeren made his debut in the first team at the 25th of November, as a starting player against Sint Truiden.
While RSC Anderlecht lost the match with 4-2, Verschaeren received a lot of positive critics from the RSC Anderlecht fans. Obviously, players from the own youth academy always get a little bit more credits from the fans, but the fans seemed to love Verschaeren not only because he’s from the own youth academy but also because his technical abilities stood out right away. With his great technical abilities and his vision, Verschaeren can create chances that no other midfielders at RSC Anderlecht can.
After just a few games in the first team, the fans gave Verschaeren the nickname “De nieuwe prins van het Astridpark.” In English: The prince of the Astridpark. This is a title that not many players get. The fact that Verschaeren got this title after just a few games in the first team says enough about the potential Verschaeren has.
Analysis Yari Verschaeren:
Coming out of the famous youth academy of RSC Anderlecht, Verschaeren quickly got named as the next Tielemans and the Next Praet. While there are certainly some similarities between these players, Verschaeren is a unique player you really can’t compare with any midfielder.
What stands out the most is his technique. Physically Verschaeen was always behind his teammates, so he had to compensate that with perfect technique. Because he couldn’t rely on his physique he practiced his technique till perfection. Verschaeren is two-footed and can turn around real quick at both sides, this is something he uses regularly. The thing that makes Verschaeren special is that he can connect his superior technique with great vision. This combination is very rare and makes Verschaeren a unique player. He sees gaps that other players don’t see, and he can capitalize on even the slightest cover mistakes his opponents make.
Despite the fact that Verschaeren isn’t the strongest, he uses his body very efficient. Last month, Verschaeren played against Antwerp, who are considered as the physically strongest team of Belgium, and Verschaeren never got in any trouble.
Expectation Sereyo Bekkink:
While I didn’t really rate Verschaeren at the Future Cup 2017, I’m really impressed with the development he made in the last 1,5 year and his performances in the first team of RSC Anderlecht. If I had to compare him with a certain player I would say he reminds me of a young Christian Eriksen, but I doubt if he can reach the same level as Eriksen.
Personally, I think Verschaeren could develop into a midfielder who is an asset for clubs just below the wold-top. So teams like Everton, RB Leipzig, Internazionale and maybe even Arsenal.
Wanna judge Yari Verschaeren yourself? Check out some of his highlights below, or just watch a game of RSC Anderlecht.