In the summer of 2019 Loïc Lapoussin left Red Star FC of Paris and moved across the border to Belgium. He joined RE Virton in the second division of Belgian football, where his performances clearly impressed one of the countries sleeping giants. Union St Gilloise were a force to be reckoned with in the 1930’s of Belgian football, winning multiple league titles. However, the Brussels club fell on hard times and spent decades in the wilderness. In the summer of 2020 they brought the Madagascan international Lapoussin to Brussels. That same year, they romped to the second division title and returned to the top flight.
Everyone will then know how they narrowly missed out on a completing a fairy-tale return to the top of Belgian football, losing out in the play-offs to Club Brugge. With key players in Denis Undav and Casper Nielsen departing, many expected the side would not be able to repeat their success. However, they are arguably even better this season and are once again involved in the title race.
One player who has been key to that is Lapoussin. In some ways, his work goes unheralded compared to that of captain Teddy Teuma and the recently departed Dante Vanzeir. While his two goals and four assists in 23 league games alongside his four assists in Europe do not stand out, he is just over on his xG and his xA,, with both having small margins. This suggests he is not over performing and can sustain this level. However, looking beyond the data he is certainly one who passes the eye test.
Its the versatility and ability to play in a deeper or further forward role on the left that lends himself to the tactics of Union. This was the evident in the November clash with Club Brugge. His work rate on the left meant that after the side went down to ten men, Union were still able to match Club on the pitch and come back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. Lapoussin was able to drive forward to help in attack, but had the fitness and speed to track back to stop Club taking advantage of the extra man they had. His link up play with Teuma also helped Union transition from defence into attack at ease and you would have been forgiven for thinking both sides were playing with 11 men.
In the reverse fixture, the winger showed his ability with his head as his goal gave Union the lead at the Jan Breydal.
In the past Lapoussin has also been asked to play in central midfield as well. His tackling success rate of 56% and pass success rate of 79% shows how he can easily do a job in central areas if asked. Furthermore, Lapoussin was competing with the more attack minded Simon Adingra earlier in the season, but his performances over the past few months means that he is well and truly the number one option for Karel Geraets on the left-hand side of midfield. He is a nightmare for opposition wingers as he can drag them back into deeper areas where they are uncomfortable, or, if they decide to remain high, he has the speed to track back and not get caught out.
It is surprising that given their success, there has not been as much buzz around Lapoussin. His skillset lends itself to most teams, and his versatility means that he can bring a degree of tactical flexibility to a side. He certainly feels like one of the least talked about players in the Belgian Pro League, which means that he appears to be underrated. However, for those who watch regularly, Lapoussin is usually a standout whenever Union play.
At just 26-years-old, Lapoussin still has plenty of time to make a move to a bigger European League. However, sometimes it would be nice to see players with his talents remain in Belgium and help Union to continue on their quest for their first title since 1935.