Club wants to upgrade with expensive alternative to Rits & Balanta


For the time being, we still have to wait for a first summer transfer at Club Brugge, but that there will be new faces, that is somewhat certain. For example, some movement can be expected in the position of central midfielder, and from that perspective, Blauw-Zwart would aim its sights on Frank Onyeka. He had a large share in the recent title of the Danish FC Midtjylland, and according to Herning Folkeblad – and also The newspapaer – Club already made a first offer for the Nigerian.


Last season Frank Onyeka was one of the great architects in the title win of FC Midtjylland, the Danish club that has a lot of ties with Club Brugge. Ex-player Brian Priske, for example, is the coach, but Dion Cools and Alexander Scholz are also active in Herning. The latter gathered the most playing minutes at Midtjylland, but Onyeka also generated a lot. Only four teammates came into action more than the Nigerian midfielder, which immediately confirms his importance in the champions team of Midtjylland. He was also voted by the fans Player of the Year.

Onyeka’s stats aren’t exactly impressive with three goals and no assist, but the great strength of 22-year-old can mainly be found in the support area. He can handle just about any position in the central midfield, which makes him a true box-to-box player. Yet Onyeka’s qualities mainly come into their own as a footballing number six, rather than as a pure central midfielder. This season, coach Priske placed him the most just before the defense, and that was clearly a successful move.


On the basis of his performance, experience and capabilities, Onyeka therefore seems to be primarily a competitor for Mats Rits and Eder Balanta, who currently hold the number six position at Club Brugge. In the current system of Philippe Clement, there is only room for one number six, so that last season Rits and Balanta were constantly in the balance and lie together. If there was a need for a lot of ball recovery and physical strength, Clement invariably chose Balanta. For extra footballing ability and infiltrations, Rits was the perfect man. Only in the absence of Ruud Vormer were Rits and Balanta dropped into the team together, with Rits as the most advanced pawn.

In that more offensive role, Rits scored a lot of points last season, which means that he can in fact be considered a valid alternative to the Dutch captain of Blauw-Zwart. For example, Rits was very easy to score, as he found his way to goal five times last season. That number of goals was only surpassed at Club Brugge by Krépin Diatta (6), David Okereke (9) and club top scorer Hans Vanaken (13). That is quite a good performance by Rits, especially because he played the majority of the games as number six, and therefore usually did not play an offensive role.


In recent weeks and months, Club Brugge has mainly been linked to central midfielders who have the specific qualities to become a back-up for Vormer and Vanaken. The profiles Joey Veerman, Amin Gigovic and Juninho Bacuna are more focused on the offensive, while those of the newest transfer target Onyeka are more on the defensive and supportive level. As a result, it could be realistic that people at Jan Breydel are thinking of using Rits more as a replacement for Vormer. Onyeka can then compete with Balanta, although Rits can of course still play a significant role on number six.

Onyeka distinguished himself in the Danish Superligaen last season, where he was one of the best defensive midfielders in the league. His role under coach Priske was mainly defensive oriented, which is evident from the fact that the Nigerian takes on average more defensive than offensive actions per match. In that defensive duels he favored 60% at the longest end, which is a similar average to that of Balanta, the primus on the number six in Bruges. Onyeka achieved a 54% success rate in his attacking duels, so it is soon clear where his great strength lies.

In terms of successful defensive actions, Onyeka can clearly compete with Balanta, who is the best number six of Club Brugge purely defensively. The Colombian invariably acts like a real midfield vacuum cleaner, confirming his average of nearly six recoveries per game – the highest number of all players at Club by the way. Still, Onyeka was able to beat the ball of the opponent more often at Midtjylland seven pieces per match namely, and with that, the Nigerian would even be the other recuperator are of the Jupiler Pro League.


But Onyeka has more to offer than just defensive efficiency and strong ball recovery, although those are two very important qualities as number six. The Nigerian goldcrest can link those qualities to an excellent passing, with which he equals the level of Rits and surpasses that of Balanta. With his 86% passing accuracy he would be in the Jupiler Pro League belong to the best ten defensive midfielders. In the Superligaen he already shined nicely in the top five in that part.

As number six, Onyeka seems to be a combination of Rits and Balanta, which can provide great perspectives at Club Brugge. Should the Nigerian soon come to reinforce the Bruges team, the current Belgian national champion will already have a serious gain. Onyeka is better at playing football than Balanta and his defensive efficiency is similar to that of the Colombian. Moreover, Rits can then act a row higher, so that he can relieve Ruud Vormer and / or Hans Vanaken without any worries, because finding a valid back-up for the Bruges engine is apparently very difficult to find after the files of Bacuna, Gigovic and Veerman were canceled.


Onyeka therefore has all the qualities to become a nice addition to Club Brugge, and by extension also the Jupiler Pro League. His broker Klaus Granlund previously stated to the Danish media he expects his client to visit other places this summer, and after that Club already made an initial offer for the Nigerian. The Midtjylland board has already swept that first offer, which amounted to 3.5 million euros, off the table and is demanding an amount of eight to ten million euros. However, the market value of Onyeka is ‘only’ four million euros.

The big difference between supply and demand seems at first sight to be a devious negotiating tactic of the Danish top club, but Midtjylland has plenty of experience in such cases. Record sales Alexander Sörloth (ex-AA Gent) left Midtjylland in 2018 for nine million euros, while his market value at that time was barely two million euros. The same goes for the transfer of Bubacarr Sanneh, the second most expensive sale of the Danes. Anderlecht paid no less than eight million euros in 2018, while the value of the Gambian was set at one and a half million euros. So it will undoubtedly be tough negotiations for Vincent Mannaert and the Danish club board of Midtjylland.

POLL: Does Club Brugge need such a profile?


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