Derrick Luckassen is a shadow of himself this season. The Dutch defender no longer shows himself as precise and solid as in the previous year, and that is a big blow through the account of RSC Anderlecht. Luckassen’s decline and work points are gradually becoming noticeable, but the center-back also has some valid excuses to invoke.
THE LOGICAL DECISION
RSC Anderlecht proudly announced the arrival of Derrick Luckassen in the summer of 2019. And that was allowed. With more than a hundred official Eredivisie matches to his name at AZ Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven, the former U23 international had to become an ideal addition to Vincent Kompany, who originally combined a role of inspirator with that of central defender, booster and rock in the surf. At the age of 24, Luckassen also brought some extra experience to Sporting, which at the time had the youngest player selection in the Jupiler Pro League with an average age of barely 23.4 years.
Derrick Luckassen did not make a bad turn in his debut season in Anderlecht. The Dutchman with Ghanaian roots always showed great reliability and commitment, even though he often had to relinquish the left and right back while he is nevertheless a central defender by nature. Luckassen enjoyed a lot of support from the public in the Lotto Park due to his excellent performances, but people were also convinced about the qualities of the 25-year-old in the corridors. That confidence in Luckassen was so great that the Purple & White attempted to recruit him permanently in the past summer of 2020.
In the end it did not come to a definitive transfer between PSV Eindhoven and Anderlecht – that dire financial situation at Sporting, you know – but the Dutch were willing to rent their superfluous player again to the Belgian record champion. According to reports, Anderlecht had to make a considerable financial effort to be able to borrow Luckassen for one more year. “RSC is pleased with his new loan out”, said a proud Peter Verbeke in July 2020 on the official club channels. “And that it can also count on the services of the Dutch defender this year. He is only 25 years old, but Derrick already has a lot of experience at the highest level. An expertise that he will undoubtedly use to guide our young team. ”
NOT 100% FIT
By acquiring Luckassen on loan for one more year, RSC Anderlecht won a nice transfer battle. By retaining Luckassen, Sporting also built in a form of security, which in the meantime knows enough about the blows of the whip in the Jupiler Pro League, and also the associated immense pressure at a club such as Anderlecht. On a defensive level it would turn out well, with Luckassen and Elias Cobbaut as the new central defensive duo. In the preparation it also went well, despite the late arrival of Luckassen, and the new central duo threw themselves into a solid pair, without much frills and frills.
Still, especially Luckassen could not continue that good line to the new official football season. The Dutchman performed poorly against KV Mechelen and KV Oostende, and against Sint-Truiden, Mouscron and Cercle Bruges it was very poor. Moreover, Luckassen last Sunday against KAS Eupen in the bargain painfully flattening so that he single-handedly threw the victory. However, Luckassen’s lesser performance would not be accidental. Due to the long negotiations between PSV and Anderlecht, he only started training in mid-July, and therefore did not have extensive preparation like the other players.
And that clearly entails some physical discomfort. “I can feel it when sprinting, but I try to ‘manage’ it a bit so that I can play well with it”, Luckassen stated after the match at KV Oostende. The Dutchman has been struggling with the left hamstring for several weeks and therefore actually needs a long period of rest. He already got this in the last international break, as well as in the competition match against Waasland-Beveren, but nevertheless Luckassen is in a bad condition. His default against KAS Eupen last weekend was therefore no coincidence.
QUESTIONS AT LUCKASSEN
The lesser physical condition of Derrick Luckassen ensures that he can use his great strengths less convincingly, so that his lesser points become increasingly visible. On the one hand, Luckassen remains extremely efficient in the defensive duels, no other Anderlecht defender has done better this season, but his number of defensive actions is remarkably low.
With three pieces per match, Luckassen has the lowest average of defensive actions among all central defenders of Anderlecht, and among all players of the Jupiler Pro League he also appears in the lower regions in that area. In the current edition of the Jupiler Pro League, only Rocky Bushiri (KV Mechelen), Kouadio Yves Dabila (Mouscron) and Naomichi Ueda (Cercle Bruges) took even less defensive actions than Luckassen. The defensive presence and contribution of Luckassen at Anderlecht is therefore rather minimal, and that is a big difference compared to last season.
So in the current year he tried three defensive actions per game, while last season that was twice as much. Interestingly enough, the efficiency in question remained almost the same, which means that the positive impact of Luckassen on the defensive game image has decreased significantly this year: his physical discomfort may be a possible reason why Luckassen takes less initiative. Yet the fact remains that Derrick Luckassen – together with Killian Sardella – is the central defender at RSC Anderlecht with the most loss of possession.
Last season, Luckassen was able – thanks to an iron physique – to camouflage his work points somewhat through strong individual performances, but this season his limitation is increasingly coming to the fore. His pure football qualities are not of a high level: technically it all leaves something to be desired. And certainly because Anderlecht always wants to bring beautiful and tidy football to the mat. It is telling that Luckassen played more lateral balls this season than passes in a forward direction, an evolution that was not the case last season.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Even though the return of Derrick Luckassen to RSC Anderlecht was a logical move by the Brussels decion makers, for the time being the Dutchman cannot repeat and confirm his good performance in the Purple & White shirt last season. The PSV Eindhoven mercenary can invoke the excuse for a lingering discomfort on the left hamstring, which means that he may not be able to reach his best physical level at the moment. With the retired Vincent Kompany and the long-injured Elias Cobbaut, Anderlecht currently does not have many central defenders available, which means that a long break for Luckassen is not an obvious option today.
Out of necessity, Sporting therefore acts in a very creative way, thanks to the successful rehabilitation of Ognjen Vranjes and the positive revival of youth product Hannes Delcroix – who is said to be preferred over Luckassen again after his next favorable COVID test. But Anthony Vanden Borre has also gotten quite a few playing minutes with the U21 in recent weeks, and in a friendly match against Bayer Leverkusen he even prospered as central defender. Nevertheless, Neerpede will mainly hope that Luckassen will return to the old, reliable player as in the previous season. Return on investment has become a necessity at Sporting.
POLL: Is Luckassen an overrated player?
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