There would have been plenty of excitement when Wolverhampton Wanderers signed the highly-rated Leander Dendoncker on a season-long loan deal from Anderlecht during the summer transfer window, and rightly so.
The 23-year-old had proven himself as a key player for Anderlecht and appeared multiple times in the Champions League for them, shone alongside Youri Tielemans in midfield and shown his versatility by playing as a centre-back too, as well as being named in Belgium’s 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup.
However, it was quickly apparent that Nuno Santo and his coaching team weren’t ready to throw him straight into the thick of Premier League action with the newly-promoted club, with The Express & Star reporting at the end of August that he would need and be given time to adapt to the quicker-paced English game.
That was quite confusing at the time given the wealth of experience he had for his age – he had made 171 appearances for Anderlecht – and while he appeared in the EFL Cup for the west Midlands outfit he didn’t make his top-flight debut until the beginning of December against Chelsea.
Having played just a further 68 minutes between then and mid-January, he has since made nine successive starts and only missed 34 minutes of action since Santo switched to a 3-5-2 system.
Ironically it was against the side he made his Premier League debut again where he really came of age – making eight tackles, five interceptions and four clearances – as Wolves came within minutes of a famous win at Stamford Bridge.
Wolves Fan TV are in no doubt that their side should have come away from Stamford Bridge with all 3 points on Sunday. Check out their views in the video below…
The 6 ft 2 midfielder shone as he helped out the likes of Matt Doherty and Romain Saiss from a defensive point of view on day where he saw little of the ball, helping to thwart fellow countryman Eden Hazard – until his late equaliser that is.
The Belgium international looks to be ready-made for the English top flight and that may well be because he was afforded time to get ready for it both physically and mentally – that once confusing Santo decision suddenly looks like a sensible one that has seriously paid off.