Following in the footsteps of Kevin De Bruyne and the late Junior Malanda, Belgian prospect Landry Nany Dimata has signed a five-year deal with Wolfsburg. - © © imago
Following in the footsteps of Kevin De Bruyne and the late Junior Malanda, Belgian prospect Landry Nany Dimata has signed a five-year deal with Wolfsburg. - © © imago

'For Junior Malanda' - Nany Dimata looks ahead to new Wolfsburg chapter


Fresh from his breakthrough season with Oostende, Landry Nany Dimata struck an emotional chord with football fans the world over in his first interview as a Wolfsburg player on Monday.

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The 19-year-old forward name-dropped a handful of Belgian predecessors he hopes to emulate at his new club - but none more poignant than the late Junior Malanda, who tragically lost his life in a car accident on 11 January 2015.

"I know Belgian players like Koen Casteels, but also players who used to play here like Kevin De Bruyne and Malanda," he told Wolfsburg TV. "I'll also be playing for Malanda this season because I know what he's doing. He's Congolese like me and he comes from Brussels."

Watch: Wolfsburg attempt to come to terms with the loss of Junior Malanda

Born in the former Belgian colony of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dimata moved to Europe as a youngster, where he was spotted by Standard Liege. After coming through the club's youth ranks, he got his big break as a professional with Oostende. He signed permanent terms in 2016, and went on to make 24 appearances in the Jupiler League, registering 11 goals and three assists.

"Nany is a young, versatile front man, whose potential to develop is something we have been paying great attention to for quite some time," said Wolfsburg sporting director Olaf Rebbe. "We are delighted to have now secured his services. He is quick and determined. He will definitely develop with us."

That is a given. Having made stars out of the likes of Eden Dzeko, Ivan Perisic and De Bruyne in recent years, Wolfsburg added another couple of rough diamonds to the collection at the turn of the year in the form of Richedly Bazoer and Paul-Georges Ntep. Both made great strides towards the end of the 2016/17 campaign, ably assisted by the wise shoulders and prolific boots of relegation saviour Mario Gomez.

Watch: Wolfsburg cling on to their Bundesliga status via the 2016/17 play-offs

"At Wolfsburg, I'll be playing together with many top players, from whom I can learn a great deal," enthused Dimata, the 2016/17 Jupiler League Players' Young Player of the Year. "It's a massive challenge, and one which I'm thoroughly looking forward to. I'm very thankful to VfL for giving me the opportunity to play in the Bundesliga. I intend to repay that faith on the pitch. The move from Belgian to German football is a big one for me."

Like Malanda before him, two-time Belgium Under-21 international Dimata joins Wolfsburg with only one full season of first-team football behind him. Although their career paths never crossed, it speaks volumes for Dimata as a person that he has the compulsion and heart to honour the Malanda name. That he has the opportunity to do so in a Wolfsburg shirt is a fitting tribute.

Translation: "Delighted to be able to wear the Wolfsburg shirt."

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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