It is common for clubs to sign players throughout the season for the future. They work hard at identifying new talent and constantly strengthening their team while increasing competition. Furthermore it, Clubs Expect Managers Between seasons too, which is rare but does happen.
However, it is unusual to see a club pulling in a player who will join two years later.
🗣️ Martin Vandevoordt:
“I am very happy with my next move to # my Lord. The club has a clear idea of football and has become one of the best names in Europe in recent years, especially for young players.”
– RB Leipzig English (RBLeipzig_EN) April 12 2022
Yes, it has happened. RB Leipzig, rejuvenated under Domenico Tedesco, has announced the signing of Genk’s Maarten Vandevoordt. The 20-year-old goalkeeper is a regular fixture for the Belgian club and the national under-21 team. Much like Gabriel Slonina, this is another star in the making from the position.
However, the fact that Leipzig moved very quickly to secure his signature is certain. It tells how high Vandevoordt ranks in the world of football. He could become part of Belgium’s next golden generation. This is not an exaggeration.
Playing career so far
Martin Vandevoordt was born near where Simon Mignolet grew up in St Troyde. Playing as an outside player for most of his early career, he joined VV Brustem C. Vandevoordt quickly advanced through the ranks, still not playing in goal. Genk signed him in 2011 after a brief stint with Sint Troiden. The policy of Genk Academy is to give every player a chance to play in the goal.
– Martin Vandevoordt (@VandevoordtM) April 26, 2021
Given how much emphasis is placed on being good with the ball at the foot, the innate nature of being high on the field is natural. Vandevoordt excelled at goal, saying “Every now and then I was allowed to play in goal, and it worked.” Furthermore, the advantage of goalkeepers being good with the ball made them comfortable playing from behind.
Belgium has been poised for success for a long time. Qatar 2022 may be their last chance after the failure at Euro 2020.
This shaped Vandvoordt’s career as he rapidly progressed through the ranks and began coaching with the first team when he was 15 years old.
👏 17-year-old Martin Vandevoordt is the youngest goalkeeper in Champions League history
😓 3 minutes after his first appearance in the first division, Cruyff attempted a turn in his penalty area which resulted in the first goal for Napoli
He had an absolute nightmare pic.twitter.com/mPxyurqUiP
– ODDSbible (ODDSbible) December 10, 2019
The highlight of his career until then came on December 10, 2019. Vandevoordt made his Champions League debut against Napoli, becoming the youngest-ever goalkeeper at 17 years and 287 days old. The match in itself wasn’t great as he made two mistakes with Genk losing 4-0. However, his talent was undeniable as Vandevoordt appeared 22 times in all competitions in 2020-21.
🇧🇪 Martin Vandevoordt on his way to RB Leipzig… in 2024! ✍️
After turning twenty, the young goalkeeper has already worked in 71 matches Tweet embed. 🤩
16 clean sheets, 1 Becker van Bilge Cup with this season being his first full championship.
A great next step. 📈 pic.twitter.com/YFwiWFlQMP
– Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) April 12 2022
Furthermore, he also won the Belgian Cup and is now an undisputed regular fixture for the club. Nationally, Vandevoordt has appeared for every age group from under-15s and up and is now the number one pick for the U21s.
Martin Vandevoordt has played more than 70 matches for Genk in all competitions. He has kept 11 clean sheets in the league so far. Vandevoordt is an upcoming goalkeeper and it shows in his game. Against Napoli, Cruyff tried to turn inside the penalty area which led to the opening goal.
🇧🇪 Martin Vandevoordt (17) continues to achieve strong results for KRC Genk in the Belgian Premier League… 🔥
…even after a difficult debut in the Champions League …
✅ 3 wins from his last 4
🥅 5 goals conceded
Only 17 years old. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/siTY9d1D2o
– Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) December 26, 2019
The Vandevoordt provides an average accuracy saving of 70%, saving 90 rounds out of 133 faces. It is not surprising that Vandevoordt, given his training, loves the ball at his feet. He regularly leaves the penalty area to catch the ball and start the attacks. Therefore, Vandvoordt had 1.33 defensive actions outside the penalty area per 90, averaging about 18.3 per 90 goal.
That kind of number made him in the top 94th and 98th percentile for goalkeepers across Europe over the past year. Vandeoort could improve his rescue instinct a bit more, with 47 targets received xGA out of 44.8. There is plenty of time for improvement over the coming years and that’s why Leipzig are betting big.
What stats don’t say
Power with his feet and absolute confidence in himself. Martin Vandevoordt is not shy about talking about how satisfying it feels to save a shot or a penalty. At such a young age, he is already one of the most reassuring faces in the lineup. Defenders know Vandervoordt will stand as a human shield to stop the goals.
Showed a great quality to bounce back from the horror show against Napoli by closing,
“I got over that mistake quickly. I think I came out of this whole story mentally stronger.”
That was one of the hallmarks of his entire career. Vandevoordt never backs down from a challenge and continues to improve his game across the board. This kind of elite mindset is essential to taking bigger steps in the future.
Read also: How Youri Tielemans could be the difference for Belgium in the FIFA World Cup
What makes it special
Martin Vandevoordt is just starting his career, but his numbers are already looking great. In the 2021-22 season, he ranked in the top 10 clean sheets (6), clean sheets percentage (8), and saves (7). Although he is not very skilled at stopping crosses or the opponent, Vandevoordt is not slack in the knowledge of his posts.
This enables him to correctly ascertain the trajectory of the shots. Genk has a history of producing excellent goalkeepers which is evident in Vandvoordt. Their most famous alumni in this position is, of course, Thibaut Courtois, but others are also club regulars. Quinn Castells, Sinan Polat and Matt Ryan played with Genk. During the Cup Tour in 2021, Vandervoordt was the first choice as he defeated Genk Standard Liege in the final.
Furthermore, he has also shown an affinity for saving penalties throughout his career. This comes in handy as the years go by and the opponents get tougher.
In short, Vandervoordt’s long-term future is arranged because Leipzig has signed him for a five-year term as a replacement for Peter Golassi. The Hungarian was one of the activists and Vandervoordt would be ready for this task. There was a lot of interest from many European parties but Leipzig won the race.
– Martin Vandevoordt (@VandevoordtM) March 29, 2022
In the short term, Vandevoordt will have to help Genk navigate the Europa League group of matches. There can be no bigger stadium than the continental level where the young goalkeeper shines. Therefore, it will be two big years for the custodian, as Euro U21 will also take place in 2023.
Leipzig will have a more skilled player in 2024 and could quickly become one of the best players in the league.