It’s not too hard to get the impression those in charge of transfers at Anderlecht wouldn’t be great at poker.
During the summer, their changing position on Leander Dendoncker seemed somewhat amateur, and with West Ham now strongly linked the situation has shown similar signs.
In July, with Manchester United being linked, the Belgian media were informed Dendoncker’s price was €38m.
Just days later, the amount changed. Herman Van Holsbeeck, Anderlecht’s sport manager (similar to a director of football) told Het Belang van Limburg: “We want to cherish him, but if a club is willing to pay between 25 and 35 million, we have a problem.”
In August the then Anderlecht president Roger Vanden Stock said a ‘hefty twenty or so’ million would be enough.
Fast forward to Van Holsbeeck being questioned on West Ham interest this week, and he said: “If there’s €25m or €30m on the table, it can be done, yes.”
It’s no wonder some in Belgium suggest Anderlecht are openly bluffing and Dendoncker is available for less.
On Friday, DH say: ‘According to our sources, the player may leave for a sum less than the “25-30 million” that Van Holsbeeck wants. Interested clubs, like West Ham, are aware that Dendoncker can leave for a smaller amount.’
In response to reports of West Ham interest, Anderlecht Online quote the club’s manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck as saying: “There is interest for Leander, but all teams fighting against relegation, it is better to stay here for a few more months and grow, then he can make a bigger transfer.”
There’s constant mixed messages, and all of this dating since the summer could be partly the reason Dendoncker isn’t having a great season. He wanted to leave in the last window, feeling it was time to move on, and for months he’ll have heard different things from his club about price and talking up and down a transfer.
At just 22 years of age, it’s probably been head wobbling for the footballer. In August the player’s agent said “the kid wants a new challenge”, and Dendoncker himself hasn’t hidden his desire for a move.
If Anderlecht had kept their mouths shut from day one they’d have a better moral stance on a transfer than they have now, and perhaps clubs wouldn’t think they can knock them down on price so easily.
And can it be any surprise the youngster’s agent has been pushing for a move?