“Wout Faes!? ....Never 'eard of him....sounds like a Star Wars Bounty Hunter”... Is exactly what we thought when he was announced as Leicester City's only outfield signing on Transfer Deadline day prior to this campaign.
A straight replacement for Chelsea bound Wesley Fofana, to plug a leaky defence that had already begun shipping goals at an alarming rate. Twenty two in seven games for the record.
Nope, we'd never heard of Wout Faes and I doubt Foxes fans had either. At a paltry £15m they would have had everything crossed that here was another shrewd signing to follow in the footsteps of such players as N’Golo Kante, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez and prove to be just as effective.
Following a 5-2 tonking at Brighton, Leicester's next away day was a trip to high flying Tottenham Hotspur.
An unknown quantity, Foxes fans would have been curious to see their new man in action. What they saw was an uncanny resemblance to a certain Brazilian defender who plied his trade at Chelsea & Arsenal.
The hair, the gait and the playing style, it seemed they had got themselves a David Luiz Re-Gen. (Ask a Fifa Player)
In fact we waited for Gary Neville to describe Faes as a "Fifa player being controlled by a 10 year old" after his debut turned into a baptism of fire as City were hammered 6-2.
It was a debut to forget and that was just what Wout and his team- mates did as the next nine league games he featured in yielded six clean sheets with wins at Wolves, Everton and West Ham among them.
We'll conveniently overlook the 0-3 reverse on Boxing Day at home to Newcastle Utd, together with Faes' best efforts to jinx our feature, with his own goal double at Anfield last weekend.
In spite of such "hiccups" the Belgian is certainly looking like a steal at £15m and has, on the whole, brought a steadying influence to The Foxes' defence.
For those of you who haven't seen him in action, you will I'm sure have watched his doppelganger David Luiz.
Like Luiz he covers the ground quickly. His frizzled hair fanning out around his head. Strong in the tackle, good in the air, and a keenness to get forward at set pieces, Faes also has the physical attributes required for the Premier league and can hold off and out muscle opponents when necessary. The Belgian has very quickly become a fan's favourite. Although they'll also be hoping after Anfield he isn't developing Luiz' like symptoms.
We asked Josh Smith (SPORTSA) a Leicester City Content Creator who watches his team home & away for a fan's view.
"He's a warrior! Most importantly he has brought the aggression to the back line that was lacking at the start of the season. But his leadership qualities that he obviously brought from being Captain at his previous club have also helped massively.”
"The way he's transformed the defence and the passion he shows on the pitch for every challenge makes it easy for us fans to love him. His name is quite catchy too!"
Given his qualities and adapting to Premier League football it was no surprise that he was selected for Roberto Martinez' World Cup Squad.
It was, however, a surprise that he didn't get any minutes given the exposure suffered by the Belgian's ageing and pedestrian defence.
Faes began his career at Anderlecht as a teenager where, despite catching the eye when captaining Belgian Youth teams, he never made the grade and moved onto Oostende where he established himself.
Seeing similarities between Wout and David Luiz, Chelsea had attempted to bring him to West London and rather condescendingly tried to woo him with a signed Luiz shirt.
Faes resisted the temptation and opted to remain in Belgium and continue his football education. A wise choice as he would likely have disappeared within their loan system and into obscurity.
After Oostende, he moved onto French Ligue 1 side Reims where he spent the next three years before moving onto Leicester.
Life at The King Power since that turbulent debut at Spurs has been good for Faes. (Yes we've already acknowledged those own goals at Anfield).
He has now become part of The Foxes' Belgian contingent joining friends & colleagues of old in Youri Tielemans, Timothy Castagne and Dennis Praet. In fact, he went to the same school as Tielemans and played in Anderlecht youth teams alongside him.
Given his solid performances, the fact that Johnny Evans isn't getting any younger and Caglar Soyuncu will likely move on in the January window, Faes could well establish himself as the cornerstone of Leicester's defence.
Certainly, The Foxes have unearthed another diamond and it's no coincidence that they have reached the relative safety of mid-table since his introduction. They were rock bottom with one point from seven games.
He and wife Linde have settled in the idyllic county of Rutland with its picture postcard scenery that is quintessential English countryside.
Wout is a self- confessed bookworm and an avid Harry Potter fan and has read all seven books in the series - Twice!
A trip to London and Harry Potter world is on his English bucket list.
Their upturn in form & fortune is put down to "......staying together, all noses in the same direction "
In other words Wout as Albus Dumbledore said " We are only as strong as we are united as weak as we are divided.”
© Joe Davison | The Aftermatch 2023