Quite a few eyebrows were raised at the start of the season. Antwerp actually started out competing on three fronts with just two strikers, one of whom was just 16 years old at the time. Meanwhile, George Ilyinichina proved that “age is just a number.” The French striker deserves a place in the meantime.
Ilinykhina is included in only the Kroki Cup and Champions League this season. He scored three goals in the cup competition against Lierse and Charleroi. In the competition, after his goal yesterday against Anderlecht, he now has one goal every 41 minutes.
Overthrow the system?
Mark van Bommel is very cautious with his teenager, but… in the meantime he looks ready for an occasional starting point. Put him alongside the hard-working Vincent Janssen and you have a lethal duo. Vermeeren was also just 17 years old when he was left out of the starting lineup and look where he is now.
Van Bommel does not have to worry about his physical condition. The 1m85 striker is a block of concrete. He can take some hits. The Antwerp coach is thinking about it too, but then he has to change his system or pull Janssen back.
Is Ekelenkamp likely to leave?
Who do you graduate? Youssef also presses in the popular midfield. Jurgen Ekelenkamp Maybe. If he is later sold to interested Torino, there are chances for Ilinykhina. Putting him on the wing is not an option, because he is the prototype of the real “nine”. Someone has to be in front of the goal.
Although it is also a quality to be able to make a difference for the bank. Few players are able to make such an impact in such a short time. It’s a luxury to have as a coach. The question is whether Van Bommel will continue to use him as a clown and let him mature further in the shadows.
In any case, he should not wait long to be given a starting place. Ilinykhina may be locked up until 2027, but his production target will have already been noticed elsewhere. If a big club comes with many millions, Antwerp needs money.
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