Quietly and secretly tinkered Christoph Freund in recent weeks on a transfer coup.
While almost daily rumors about a possible departure of regular players like Brenden Aaronson, Karim Adeyemi or Mo Camara surfaced, it remained quiet on the access side for a long time.
In the past week was finally Ignace Van der Brempt by Belgian media with the "bulls" linked, only a few days later signed the 19-year-old a contract until 2026 in the city of Mozart (All info>>).
LAOLA1 takes a closer look at the talented right-back and reveals Salzburg’s plans for the Belgian youngster:
Friend: "Maybe a bit unusual"
5 million euros, the "Bullen" have paid for him the services of Van der Brempt will cost. This makes the Antwerp native the second most expensive defensive purchase in the club’s history behind Max Wober and on par with Kamil Piatkowski and Rasmus Kristensen.
In the past, Christoph Freund has not been afraid to spend large sums on comparatively inexperienced players by Austrian standards. Most of the time, Salzburg’s sporting director was rewarded for such investments, and in the case of Van der Brempt, too, they were quickly sure to strike in the city of Mozart.
"Perhaps it is a bit unusual when a player moves from the Belgian champion to the Austrian one. But the way he sees and works soccer fits perfectly with us. That’s why I expect a very successful cooperation", Freund revealed at a Bundesliga media day at the start of spring.
On the trail of Haaland and Co.?
Although Van der Brempt has rarely featured for his youth club Club Brugge, Salzburg’s management wanted to sign the speedy winger sooner rather than later. According to Freund, the club has done well with winter transfers in recent years: "We really wanted to make the transfer now because Ignace is still a very young player. He will be given time to adapt to our style of play and manner and get to know the club. We’ve done this similarly before, for example with Erling Haaland or Antoine Bernede (both moved to Salzburg at the beginning of 2019 and were given six months to ‘get to know the club’, Anm.)."
Noah Okafor (to Salzburg in the winter of 2020) and Brenden Aaronson (to Salzburg in the winter of 2021) were also winter purchases, both were granted a certain period of acclimatization, after which one took off earlier (in the case of Aaronson) and the other with a slight delay (in the case of Okafor).
Van der Brempt should use the six-month trial period primarily to internalize the thoroughly complex tactical procedures in Jaissle’s system and to get the pressing work, which Salzburg’s full-backs have to do, into his blood.
Striking parallels to Kristensen
For the young Belgian team player, the main focus will be on one man: Rasmus Kristensen.
The Dane has become a key figure in Salzburg’s successful squad. With his robustness in defense, his dribbling skills and his scoring power in the forward movement, the 24-year-old has played his way onto the notepads of numerous top international clubs. Staying in the city of Mozart beyond the summer would be a big surprise.
"Rasmus has played really well in the last few months and has also shown previously. Now he has also delivered internationally topperformances, there are certainly some interested parties. If Rasmus continues to show up like this, it is certainly not impossible that he could take the next step in the summer", also admits sports director Freund.
Van der Brempt was also therefore the absolute desire player of the "Bullen" at the right-back position, because he is extremely similar to Kristensen both physically and technically. Both are the same height on the centimeter with a height of 1.87 meters, both perform extremely bulky and physical on the grass. In addition, the Danish mentality monster and the Belgian youngster have a strong technique and an unstoppable offensive drive.
Ex-teammate: "Can train again without shin guards"
Similar to Kristensen, Van der Brempt gives everything in every training session; the 19-year-old has no regard for losses. In Bruges, one or the other teammate may also have felt this: When Van der Brempt announced his departure from Belgium on Instagram, ex-teammate Noa Lang commented with relief under the post: "Can train without shin pads again."
But Van der Brempt is not only a tough defender, he also has a high basic speed as well as a delicate technique. Originally, the right-footer was trained as an offensive winger. It was only with the transition to adult soccer that Van der Brempt was increasingly called upon to play in defense. The current U21 team player has also gained experience as a central defender in a three-man backline, which is played consistently in all Belgian national teams.
And the 19-year-old, who also has Thomas Meunier, a right-back with an attacking orientation, as his role model, should not be lacking in goals either. Van der Brempt already showed a lot of coolness with his debut goal in the Belgian top flight last season (see VIDEO below):
Friend: "This fits together really well"
"We see him as a player who fits in well with us in terms of his physical attributes. He is very fast, very robust and plays aggressive soccer. I expect a lot from him in the next few years and I’m convinced that he will continue to develop with us. The way we play soccer and train, it fits together really well. He also saw it that way", Freund is convinced that he has once again proved to have a golden hand.
Van der Brempt, who moves to Salzburg with six Champions League appearances under his belt, will have to be patient at first, though. In the spring, he will have to make do with the role of substitute for perennial striker Kristensen, who was not in Salzburg’s starting eleven in only two of the 29 competitive matches in the fall. The Dane will be the "bulls however, almost certainly leave in the summer and Van der Brempt will then duel with Amar Dedic, currently on loan to WAC, for the right-back position.
At the latest then Christoph Freund’s anticipation of the summer could turn out to be an absolute goldmine – once again.