·12 October 2023
·12 October 2023
It may be over two months before the January window opens, but the transfer clock never stops ticking.
Clubs are always on the lookout for players, traversing every inch of the world in the hope of unearthing that next wonderkid. However, for Europe's top sides, they may not have to look too far afield.
Arthur Vermeeren is the name on everybody's lips in Belgium, with the 18-year-old midfielder bursting onto the scene for Royal Antwerp. He's made his Champions League bow already, taking on the mighty of Barcelona, and his performances have been so good that Domenico Tedesco has rewarded him with a call-up to the senior national team following the withdrawal of Leandro Trossard.
But what makes Antwerp's young prodigy so exciting?
Vermeeren has blossomed in the Belgian Pro League / Soccrates Images/GettyImages
Having arrived at Royal Antwerp's youth setup via KV Mechelen in 2018, it was only really last season that Vermeeren rose to prominence. The 18-year-old featured 20 times in the league for eventual title winners Antwerp, forging a role for himself in defensive midfield.
He was also part of the Antwerp team that won the Croky Cup in 2023. The Belgian made six appearances and played the entirety of both legs of the semi-final and the final, beating his old side Mechelen 2-0 to claim his first trophy. Vermeeren also won the Belgian Super Cup this season as Antwerp prepared themselves for a first Champions League campaign since the competition changed its format.
Vermeeren has made 15 appearances in all competitions at the time of writing, including ten in the league where he has provided a goal and two assists from midfield. He has also featured twice in the Champions League, including in a 5-0 defeat to potential buyers Barcelona, and provided both assists in a narrow 3-2 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.
The teenager has also featured for Belgium at various age groups, most recently playing for the Under-21s despite missing out on a place at the European Championships, and is a shoo-in to get senior minutes soon enough.
Barcelona appear to be the club most interested at present / Diogo Cardoso/GettyImages
Unsurprisingly, Vermeeren has already been linked with a host of top clubs across the continent. Barcelona view the youngster as a potential successor to Sergio Busquets, and the anchor role is not currently a position Barca are blessed with great depth in.
Oriol Romeu is currently holding the fort for Barca, while Ilkay Gundogan and Frenkie de Jong - the latter of whom has been struggling with injury - can fill in if needs be. In terms of whether Vermeeren has the talent to step up, you can perhaps read between the lines of comments made by Antwerp boss Mark van Bommel prior to the clash with Barca - he didn't want to elaborate on how good his player could be in fear that the Catalan giants "would buy him immediately".
90min understands that Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham have also asked about Vermeeren, with his ability in the number six role a potential indicator that the Premier League trio are looking for further depth given they respectively have Rodri, Declan Rice and Yves Bissouma at their disposals.
Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus are also keeping a close eye on his development - further indication of how highly Vermeeren is thought of.
Vermeeren could be available for a bargain price / TOM GOYVAERTS/GettyImages
There has been speculation that Vermeeren could be available for as little as €20m (£17m), though that figure can likely be taken with a pinch of salt at this stage. Antwerp will certainly be hoping, when the time is right to sell, that they can spark a bidding war, earning as much money as they can for future investment in their own team.
Were Vermeeren already a Premier League player, you could conceivably compare his value to that of international teammate Romeo Lavia, who joined Chelsea from Southampton for just shy of £60m this summer.
That kind of figure will probably be out of Antwerp's reach, but an outstanding rest of the season could see Vermeeren become one of the hottest properties in the transfer market either in January, or next summer.