Josh Cullen's move to Anderlecht during the summer transfer window was certainly an unexpected one. Having impressed during the last couple of seasons whilst on loan at Charlton, many felt a move to the Championship was the most likely outcome if he decided to leave parent club West Ham.
Few could have predicted that he would opt for for a move to Belgium. The midfielder would sign with Anderlecht, the country's most successful club and currently managed by Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany.
The club experienced some difficulties in the 19/20 campaign, finishing eighth in the coronavirus shortened season. However, they have fared better this season after Cullen's addition, currently sitting in fourth place.
The 24-year old has played a big part in their progress, appearing in 13 league games thus far. That includes last night's draw against Waasland-Beveren, with Cullen captaining the side.
— RSC Anderlecht (@rscanderlecht) January 22, 2021
Speaking earlier this week, manager Vincent Kompany was full of praise for the Ireland international. He told Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure:
He never wins the man-of-the-match award but he’s one of the most popular guys in the squad.
His team-mates are the ones who admire him the most because he only has one thing on his mind: the team. If the team wins, it’s because he did a lot of the jobs that the others cannot.
Against Genk, he injured his head and they put a bandage on him. As I know he’s of Irish descent and tough as iron, I slapped him on his bandage and said with a laugh: ‘Are you okay? Come on, run then, stop making excuses.’
It was the same against Charleroi: he took a big tackle on the ankle but I knew he’d continue, even if his leg was cut in half.
Cullen will now surely be eyeing a place in the Ireland squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in March. There are certainly few Irish midfielders who have seen more playing time this season, with plenty of places up for grabs in that area of the pitch.
Stephen Kenny will be keeping a close eye on his progress in the coming weeks.