Five months ago, a young, raw talent pitched up at a side in central Belgium from Burkina Faso and to be honest, I didn’t know of him. Writing regular transfer updates of the Jupiler Pro League, I didn’t even acknowledge him. Mechelen had a good season last year, which could’ve been better, and I truly thought they’d kick on this term. But in a dark season, so far full of poor form and sparse consistency, a gem has certainly shone and aided in a revival as the midway point is reached in the Pro League. That gem is Hassane Bandé.
Hassane Bandé: A Meteoric Rise
Boureima Hassane Bandé has been nothing but a shining star, to be frank. Featuring in just one match out of the first five, he scored in his brief 14 minutes against Antwerp. Big, powerful, and tricky with an eye for goal, he has managed 9 goals in 15 games in all competitions and is already a mainstay in the Mechelen first team.
The versatile Bandé can play along the front three of an attack. Right-footed, although he is equally as deadly with his left, he predominantly plies his trade on the left. Bandé can cut in, beat his player and find the net. However, the great thing about him is that he can also score a poacher’s goal from six yards out, which doesn’t only show intelligence and movement to find space, but fitness to get in from the touchline to the box.
At just 19, Hassane Bandé isn’t fazed by bigger opposition, netting against Anderlecht, Sint-Truiden, Zulte Waregem and the aforementioned Antwerp: clubs all pushing for the championship playoffs in Belgium. Because let’s face it, that’s what you want in your attacking players. To play without fear. If you know you have a player who will grab the goals with the odd assist, you’ll forgive them for an occasional mistake, and at Mechelen this season, where plenty have faltered, he will be let off because of his age and because he is delivering the goods right now.
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I said back in late October this player will be out of Belgium sooner rather than later because of the nature of the league. I just didn’t think it’d be this soon! I always felt the natural progression of a player was to a team like Ajax because of their development of quality young players. Ajax give players the platform to progress further if they’re good enough.
What will be even sweeter is the rumours that PSV were sniffing around, so Ajax beating their rivals to his signature makes this even better. However, there were a plethora of clubs lining up to take a punt on Bandé including Anderlecht, Porto, Valencia, Sevilla, and Newcastle, amongst others.
Sometimes in football, players can be put into the limelight too soon. Hassane Bandé has not only dealt with this magnificently, but has climbed the football pyramid at an alarming rate. The youngster has already represented his country in a World Cup qualifier and I’m sure he will be a first choice player for years to come in an ever-improving Burkina Faso national side.
This is shrewd and quick business by Ajax. Mechelen fans have said this is good business because of the fee, whereas I’ve seen some Ajax fans questioning if this is a good acquisition. I truly believe Bandé is too good for Belgium, or at least too good for Mechelen, meaning he needed continental football or European football next season to aid with his progression. At a reported €9.5 million it’s a snip, with plenty of years in the tank and plenty of profit if he continues this form for the men from Amsterdam. Exciting times for Hassane Bandé, Ajax and definitely the Ajax fans!
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to What a Load of Waffle — an English-language Belgian football blog — for penning this piece on Hassane Bandé. Be sure to check out the page!