There can be little doubt that the departure of the quite brilliant Mbark Boussoufa has left a gaping hole in Anderlecht’s dressing room and precipitated a disappointing end to the previous season. Ariël Jacobs saw his side falter in the play-offs culminating in a disappointing third-placed finish. Season ticket sales are down 7000 with fans in a pessimistic mood ahead of the upcoming season. Former Anderlecht forward Marc Degryse believes Lukaku will stay but he is also sceptical as to whether the club will sign another big name to replace Boussoufa. One man hoping to fill the void is Guillermo Molins.
Molins was signed from Swedish club Malmö FF, where he had spent the entire duration of his professional career. He featured for Sweden in the European under-21 championships back in 2009 and graduated to the senior squad, winning four caps, all in friendly internationals. A winger, comparisons were inevitably drawn with former Mauve Christian Wilhelmsson, who shone in Brussels between 2003 and 2006 before he left for Nantes. As we have seen with André Villas-Boas recently, such comparisons are lazy and wide of the mark. Molins himself was quick to assert that he is very much his own player in his own style:
“I play in the same position as Wilhelmsson – on the right flank – but I am not like Chippen. I am bigger and more powerful while he has more pace. ”
Molins, who has his own nickname – “Gische” , was a striker when he came to Malmö back in 2005 after a second spell at fourth tier club Kävlinge GIF. Upon his arrival, he scored 45 goals for Malmö’s lower teams in 2006 and proved himself as a player, who at least at that level, was very difficult to stop. Under then coach Soren Akeby, he was moulded into a winger and he has held down such a position ever since. Although more than accustomed to a wide role after four seasons there, he still sees himself as a striker and would at some point like to return to playing upfront.
One major stumbling block for Molins is his inability to translate his goalscoring exploits for the youth and reserve teams to the Allsvenskan. Since he became a regular player for Malmö, he has managed just 15 goals in 92 matches, which while decent for a wide man, could hardly be described as pulling up any trees. It is an area of his game that he acknowledges needs improving:
“I need to score more goals and provide more assists in the league. I have asked our psychologist Sverker Bengtsson why I do not score more. He has no specific answer but he says it helps to find the positives in life when you are feeling down. Once you feel happy, you can go from there,” he remarked a year ago.
Last season, he scored seven goals and he added a further three this year before he left the club. He may not have been a regular goalscorer but he most certainly has a penchant for the spectacular as Orebro (the former club of new Club Brugge defender Mathias Almebäck) found out on 15 May. Molins helped his side come from behind to win thanks to two spectacular strikes from distance and RSCA fans will be hoping for more of the same, although he failed to provide even a single assist this season.
However, Molins is most certainly not lacking in the necessary attributes required to make a success of his career in Belgium. He is a winger, who is particularly noted for his dribbling skills, which combined with his physique, make him a dangerous prospect for full-backs. He has a big heart and a good work ethic allied to quick feet, excellent technique. Furthermore, he is a player who excels in one-on-one situations and he has become more assured in possession as well as improving the defensive side of his game.
Molins follows not only in the footsteps of Wilhelmsson, who has “only heard good things about him” but also Pär Zetterberg, who made 285 league appearances for les Mauves et Blancs. Zetterberg has been deeply critical of the recruitment policy of sporting director Herman van Holsbeeck in recent times, citing Czech duo Jan Lecjaks and Lukas Marecek as players who in his time would only make the reserves. Zetterberg had the following to say to La Dernière Heure:
“I am convinced that Anderlecht have done good business with this player. He must not be compared to Wilhelmsson – they are different types of player. He is a complete footballer, a hard worker, a good crosser of the ball but not an artist in the mould of Wilhelmsson.”
Anderlecht fans will be hoping that Molins is the man to inject some much-needed creativity to their frontline, especially with the departure of Jonathan Legear seemingly imminent. He will be aided by the fact he will be reunited with former team-mate Behrang Safari. However, while expectations need to be managed, he will need to hit the ground running if confidence is to drain back into both players and fans at Belgium’s biggest club.