Big spenders, big underachievers: Crucial summer ahead for Westerlo

Over the course of the 2023/2024 season, Westerlo spent around €20m on attempting to improve their squad. However, the side struggled for cohesion and only avoided finishing in the bottom four on the final day of the season. During the play-offs, they have failed to win a single game. The hope had been that, this summer, they would allow Rik De Mil to put his own imprint on the side going into the next campaign. However, after the farcical end to their regular season, De Mil was sacked and is now set to carry out a similar rebuild with Charleroi.

For Westerlo, this summer is a crucial period in which they need to learn from the mistakes they made last season and act upon them. Finding the right head coach will be crucial, as De Mil showed during his time that there is plenty of attacking talent in the squad that can play attractive football.

Whoever comes in may well have to do this without key midfielder Nicolas Madsen. The 24-year-old Danish midfielder has scored 14 goals in 33 games this season and is likely to be a transfer target for many of the other Belgian Pro League sides. He has been one of the bright sparks in what has been a disappointing season for Westerlo.

The new head coach will also need to find a way to get the best out of the sides record signing Matija Frigan. The young Croatian forward joined in the summer from Rjeka, where he had scored 14 goals in 31 games. This season, he has only managed five goals in 31 games and has struggled to adapt to the Pro League. At just 21-years-old, Frigan has plenty of time and hopefully will have benefited from a tough first season.

Finding a new goalkeeper will also be a number one priority for the side. Sinan Bolat, at the age of 35, has begun to show his age. While he is still under contract at the club until 2026, they could do with someone less mistake prone between the posts. Nick Gillekens, who did replace Bolat at the start of the season, was also underwhelming.

Westerlo’s Turkish owners have shown they are willing to invest in the squad to bring success, however this season has hopefully shown that there needs to be method behind the financial outlay. If Westerlo want to avoid a repeat of the disappointing campaign from 2023/2024, they need to work hard this summer.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

More European Football News