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GdS: From Mechelen to Milan

One of the bright spots to emerge from a difficult victory against Fiorentina on Sunday night was Aster Vranckx’s performance coming off the bench. 

La Gazzetta dello Sport recall that Vranckx was thrown into a tough situation without having many minutes under his belt and his response was a dynamic performance and to have a hand in the winning goal, as it was his cross that evaded everyone before being kneed into his own net by Nikola Milenkovic.

The report poses the rather bold question: ‘What if Vranckx was the new Kessie?’ That is not to say a midfielder with exactly the same characteristics as the Ivorian but rather someone to compliment Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali, a player both physically robust and technically sound.

Vranckx arrived from Wolfsburg in the summer, on a loan with an option to buy set at €12m, and he has always said that one of his calling cards is his character which Pioli began to notice slowly.

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The 20-year-old played a quarter of an hour against Sampdoria when Milan were a goal up but a man down due to a red card, then he had cameos against Juve, Monza and Fiorentina. An interesting stat emerged: when Vranckx plays, Milan have not yet lost.

Vranckx was initially a forward when he first started playing but his coaches moved him backwards over time before becoming a midfielder with KV Mechelen. He then chose Wolfsburg to try and emulate Kevin De Bruyne, a role model and idol since he was a kid.

Instead he drew comparisons to Axel Witsel, but he tries to model his game more on Moussa Dembelè – today at Guangzhou R&F in China – as he admitted: “He makes everything look easy.”

Nike have sponsored Vranckx since he was 16 as they took him under their wing a few months after seeing him sign his first professional contract with Mechelen. For him pressure does not exist and he was once asked what it feels like to play as a starter at 17 for his hometown club, to which he replied. “I have a lot of confidence in myself.” Pioli noticed it.

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