6 young prospects from Genk shining bright across Europe
The three-time Belgian Championship winners KRC Genk have a reputation of nurturing youngsters in a unique way to produce extraordinary talents. The Belgian club set up their new academy next to their stadium in 2003.
Ronny Vangeneugden took care of these youngsters and eventually got promoted to first team manager. Their scouting is also highly regarded.
It was Ronny who started to promote youngsters to the first team, but a lack of maturity from the youngsters meant the 50-year-old had to get the sack in 2008, due to a string of poor results. But, those players have gone on to become one of the finest on the European continent.
Patrick Jannsens, CEO of Genk opened up about the club in an interview with Goal, "Do we consider ourselves a selling club? This is not our ambition but it is the reality. We look upon ourselves as a club that’s a university of football. A club that develops high-quality players."
Let's look at the six players who have come through the Genk academy to become some of the hottest prospects in Europe right now.
#6 Leon Bailey ( Bayer Leverkusen )
Hailing from Kingston, Leon Bailey spent his early career at Phoenix All Stars academy. Witnessing his immense talent, Austrian FC club Liefering made their move to sign the Jamaican winger. He was just 13 years of age when he moved to Europe.
After two years, he made a move to Slovakian club Trencin, before eventually moving to the Belgian heavyweights during the summer of 2015. During his stay at Cristal Arena, the winger had scored 16 goals from 77 appearances, which included seven in the Europa League.
Those numbers were able to attract interest from Bayer Leverkusen. Staying as an integral part of the team, Bailey has made a name for himself in the Bundesliga. He has made 44 appearances for the German club, attracting interest from Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Chelsea last summer. All three clubs balked at the price tag. At the age of just 21, Leon Bailey is going to one of the names to watch out for years to come.