Comparing young players to some of the game's biggest names has, for some reason, become some sort of obsession in recent years. How often are the words “the new Messi” or “the new Zidane” used to describe a promising talent in modern football?
Although these observations are flattering, they're generally erroneous and prove to be a huge burden on the youngster's shoulders. Unfortunately, most of them never live up to the expectations.
Let's hope this isn't the case for Manchester City's Jason Denayer. Thanks to his impressive displays for Celtic last year, the 20-year-old has been compared to no other than his teammate and captain Vincent Kompany.
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This analogy may seem excessive and premature however it's difficult not to notice the many similarities between the two players. Not only are they originally from Brussels, the pair also share a similar style of play. In addition to being comfortable with the ball, both are intelligent, powerful and extremely elegant centre-backs.
Of course, Denayer still has to improve on several aspects of his game in order to equal his fellow countryman's success. But it looks like he may be on the right track.
As with many footballers, it all started at Denayer's local club, Ganshoren, in the suburbs of Belgium's capital city when domestic giants, Anderlecht, came knocking on the door. Subsequently, the Belgian spent two years with les Mauves before joining The Jean Marc Guillou Academy, an original institute where pupils train barefoot.
During the summer of 2012, the youngster decided to try his luck abroad and after a fruitful trial with Manchester City, Denayer signed his first professional contract with the Sky Blues, at the age of 17. Here the defender spent a couple of years playing his part in the UEFA Youth League and in the Under 21 Premier League.
Relatively unknown a few years ago, Denayer hatched last season and revealed himself to the football microcosm during his time in Glasgow. It all started with a dream debut in the Scottish Premiership against Dundee United; he scored the opening goal four minutes into the game and was later named man of the match.
In total, the centre-back made 44 appearances for the Celts forming a solid partnership with Virgil Van Dijk. For the first time, Denayer also had a taste of (professional) success: Celtic went on to win the double and he was voted PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year.
In addition to club success, Denayer broke through into the Belgian national team. After featuring just five times for Celtic, Marc Wilmots decided to call the defender up for Euro 2016 qualifiers against Andorra, Bosnia and Wales as well as for a friendly against Iceland. However in each of these games, he remained an unused substitute.
The player eventually made his international debut against Israel coming on for Benteke following Kompany's sending off. He was given the chance yet again to prove himself against France when Belgium defeated Didier Deschamps' men in a 3-4 thriller last June.
After a successful year in Scotland, Denayer penned a new five year deal with Manchester City and was included in the club's pre-season tour squad. Sadly, the 20-year-old would have struggled to grab any game time this year with likes of Kompany, Mangala, Otamendi and possibly Demichelis ahead of him in Pellegrini's pecking order.
Consequently, his recent loan move to Galatasaray looks like the best option for the talented young man who reportedly turned down several offers from all around Europe to join the Turkish champions (Sky Sports). Istanbul seems to be the ideal next step as he will be able to experience Champions League football in the Turk Telekom Arena.
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