Joint-top scorer in the UEFA Youth League, we profile RSC Anderlecht's 17-year-old Aaron Leya Iseka, the latest talent off the Belgian football production line.
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A 17-year-old with a first-team goal already, Aaron Leya Iseka is forcing people to sit up and take notice. Joint-top scorer in the UEFA Youth League, the in-form forward has ensured he is part of senior coach Besnik Hasi's plans at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium. UEFA.com profiles the next prodigy off the Belgian production line.
Name: Aaron Leya Iseka
Club: RSC Anderlecht
Debut: 3 December 2014
Nationality: Belgian/DR Congolese
Date of birth: 15/11/1997
Preferred foot: right
They say ...
"By the age of ten he had outclassed all the other players. Aaron is a very strong character who makes himself heard in the squad. For years he has been the leader in every dressing room. Aaron will always give his opinion in a polite way and when he decides something, he is usually followed by the others."
Mohamed Ouahbi, Anderlecht youth coach
"He has enormous talent and has already taken big steps, but he still has a lot of progress to make. Provided he keeps giving the same effort, Iseka will be able to lead the Anderlecht attack in the near future. I have a lot of faith in Aaron."
Besnik Hasi, Anderlecht head coach
Brussels born with Congolese roots, Leya Iseka has come through every stage of the Anderlecht youth system. For the younger brother of former R. Standard de Liège and current Olympique de Marseille front man Michy Batshuayi – who claimed his first international goal on his Belgium debut against Cyprus on 28 March – a knee problem at the age of 12 was a blessing in disguise. "His starting speed was phenomenal until then. The knee problem threw him back a bit, but it forced him to work on his technical abilities and have more time with the ball at his feet," youth coach Mohamed Ouahbi explained.
First-team breakthrough ...
His showings in the youth ranks were too good to be ignored by the senior set-up. On 3 December he made his first-team bow in the Belgian Cup against KRC Mechelen and a first goal came in his third appearance, the 4-2 quarter-final second-leg success over SV Zulte Waregem. More substitute outings have followed – including in the UEFA Europa League and the Belgian Cup final defeat by Club Brugge KV. A first start should not be far off.
Youth League exploits ...
Match winner in the 1-0 round of 16 triumph over FC Barcelona – his sixth strike in the UEFA Youth League – the attacker declared: "My goal is to be top scorer in this competition, so I have to keep it going against Porto." He kept his word with a quarter-final hat-trick against FC Porto which heralded a 5-0 victory, helping him join Chelsea FC's Dominic Solanke as the tournament's nine-goal leading marksman.
Five more years ...
Recognising the talent on their hands, Anderlecht were swift to offer the youngster a five-year deal which he signed in March. "I grew up here and have experienced what this club does for young players," said Leya Iseka. "In this phase of my career I cannot wish for anything better. Here I can have a taste of the real thing and steadily grow towards the top. Anderlecht are the biggest team in the country. Above all they really offer opportunities for youngsters – I will do everything possible to reward that faith."