Is Marco Ilaimaharitra one of the most underrated midfielders in the Belgian Pro League?

Outside of Belgium and Madagascar, it is fair to say that not many will have probably heard of Charleroi’s captain Marco Ilaimaharitra. The central midfielder will go down in Madagascan footballing history as the player who scored the goal that gave Madagascar’s football team its first win at an Africa Cup of Nations. His free-kick against Burundi was also one of the best goals of the tournament.

The Zebras signed the now 28-year-old back in the summer of 2017. He had begun his career with Sochaux in France, making 106 appearances for the first team and scoring once. He was also a French youth international before switching to Madagascar in the summer of 2019. Ilaimaharitra has made an impressive 216 appearances for Charleroi, scoring 15 goals. He has also been capped 12 times by the Barea, with his only goal being the sublime free-kick against Burundi.

However, the midfielder should arguably be more highly regarded within Belgian football. This season he actually leads Charleroi in terms of goals scored with four, already one more than last season in just 14 games. His passing is a strong asset to his game, with 688 successful passes at an accuracy rating of 81% according to FotMob. This is just slightly down from 83.8% last season. He has also provided 40 accurate long balls in 14 matches, with the success rate dropping to 60%, six percentage points lower than the number from last season.

As a combative midfielder who likes to put in a tackle, Ilaimaharitra has also won over 50% of his duels this season at a rate of 56.4%. This is slightly above his 52.9% last season, which points to the consistency of his play in the engine room. He has also recovered the ball 123 times, winning the ball back 10 times in the final third. He is on course to match or surpass the 255 recoveries and 18 final third recoveries that he recorded last season.

Charleroi will be content that their captain is going to be around during the upcoming AFCON. Despite being one of the more entertaining sides in Egypt, the island nation failed to qualify for the tournament in Cote d’Ivoire. Charleroi will certainly need his leadership and footballing ability after the winter break. The side are currently involved in the battle to avoid finishing in the bottom four.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

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