Standard de Liège’s academy may not be the most well-known academy in Belgium, but it has produced great talents in the past like Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Eliaquim Mangala and Michy Batshuayi. The 21-year-old Nicolas Raskin hopes to be Liège’s next academy graduate to make a name for himself in Europe. Born in Liège Raskin didn’t spend his whole youth at Standard. The central midfielder joined Les Rouches in 2008 when he was seven years old. In 2015 it was time for a new chapter for Raskin as he joined RSC Anderlecht before moving on to KAA Gent in 2017. It looked like they believed in him at Gent as he was the first player born in the 21st century to play in the Jupiler Pro League in a match against STVV in 2018. Raskin didn’t see a future at The Buffalo’s though, as he returned to Standard the summer after.
Back in Liège, Nicolas Raskin had to wait a while before he made some minutes for the first team. In February 2020 the Belgian youth international made his debut, starting against Club Brugge, and in the 2020/2021 season Raskin played over 40 matches for Standard. Now after 2,5 seasons and almost 100 matches for Standard, it looks like Raskin’s time in Belgium has come to an end. Nicolas Raskin’s contract expires at the end of the season and the contract negotiations have collapsed, even though it looked like he was going to extend a few weeks ago. According to Standard’s manager Ronny Deila Raskin won’t play or train with the first team anymore. The 21-year-old could be walking out the door for free at the end of the season, but will probably already move this winter. I will talk more about his qualities as a footballer in this report.
For Standard Nicolas Raskin has played in a bunch of formations, this year mostly in a 3-5-2 or 4-2-3-1. The Belgian midfielder most often plays as a right central midfielder or as the lone defensive midfielder. Raskin is a player who loves to have the ball and will make a lot of runs to be able to receive it. He is very involved in Standard’s build-up, but also gets forward to help in the final third. In general, Raskin covers a lot of ground, also making a lot of meters doing defensive work.
You may not expect a lot from Raskin on the physical front, as he is quite small standing at 1.78m, but he does very well in his duels. The midfielder uses his body very well and with the intensity and aggression he puts in his duels, you won’t see him lose a lot of them. Raskin is like a pitbull in midfield at times, as he will do about anything to recover the ball from his opponent. Now generally he scans very well, but he can get a bit blinded by the ball and step out of midfield, when he shouldn’t and leave a big gap. However, this is something which doesn’t happen that often anymore these days. If you look at the data and compare Raskin to the other central midfielder in the Jupiler Pro League, it confirms he is great in his duels with a very high volume of defensive duels per 90 and a great win percentage.
I already shortly praised Raskin’s mentality earlier, but it reaches further than just in his defensive duels. Raskin is a natural leader on the pitch and is loved by Standard’s fanbase. You will always see him coaching his teammates on the pitch in a positive way. In an interview with Nieuwsblad from May 2021 his coach at Anderlecht U15&U16 Roel Clement and ex-KAA Gent manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck speak very highly of Standard’s youngster. Not only about his great mentality, but also his footballing qualities.
“You rarely see young players like him come here and instantly make an impact. On and off the pitch he was instantly a leader.”Roel Clement – Raskin’s coach at Anderlecht U15 & U16
Besides being a great character on the pitch, Raskin is also great on the ball. As I said he is a player who likes to have the ball as much as possible and when he does have the ball, he usually does good things with it. He often drops back quite a bit to collect the ball from one of Standard’s centre backs and then drives forward with the ball if he sees the space to do so. Raskin is very fast on the first few meters, with decent speed over longer distances, and can easily pass an opponent in midfield. He is also quite press-resistant, as he scans well and is able to make quick decisions when pressed. When I watched him back in December 2020, he already looked very mature on the ball and this definitely hasn’t changed. He still has a moment every now and then, where he is a little too ambitious on the ball, but I don’t see the same nonchalance I saw back then. Raskin shows great technical fundamentals, is very comfortable playing with both feet, and makes the things he does look easy.
Raskin’s passing is also very good. He showed that he has great passing range, but prefers to play short combinations with his teammates. You will often see him play one-two passes or see him make a run forward after finding a teammate, to be involved in the final third. He is not a prolific goalscorer, with five goals in 96 matches for Standard, but does get his fair share of assists. Again, if you look at the data of the number of passes to the final third and the accurate passes to the final third, you can see again that Raskin scores very well compared to his colleagues in the Belgian Pro League.
Conclusion & Future
Nicolas Raskin is one of the many exciting prospects of the next generation of Belgian footballers and I hope he can be an important player for their national team in the future. It looks like his time at Standard de Liège is over and I hope he can find a good club for him in the winter or sort things out with Standard so he doesn’t waste the second half of the season. The Belgian central midfielder has already been linked with clubs like Olympique Marseille, Toulouse, Rangers, Galatasaray and even Napoli. I definitely think that his next move should be abroad and I think he would fit in great at a club like Rangers. This could be a great step for him before he joins a top-7 side in one of the top-five leagues, which I think he has the potential to do.