Player Profile: Genk’s Mike Trésor Ndayishimiye
Racing Genk is enjoying another fantastic season in the Jupiler Pro League. After 24 matches, the Limburg-based side leads the league by seven points over last season’s runners-up Union St. Gilloise. Chasing their fifth title in club history, Genk has a number of players having fantastic seasons.
That includes Belgian Mike Trésor Ndayishimiye, or simply Mike Trésor. The 23-year-old has been a spark in what is his second season with the side. With 23 goal involvements in 27 competitive matches this season, all eyes are now on the youngster. Here is a look at Trésor, his previous clubs, his time at Genk, and what makes him so dangerous.
Trésor’s Career Before Genk
In his youth, the Belgian with Burundian roots played at KFC Avenir Lembeek. He would move on to Tubize and then Anderlecht in his teenage years. At the latter, he took part in two seasons of the UEFA Youth League, the U19 Champions League. Three appearances across two seasons in the competition and Trésor was not overly impressive.
After playing at Anderlecht’s U17, U19 and U21 teams, the winger left the club at the end of the 2017/18 season when his contract was not renewed. For nearly two and a half months, Trésor was without a club. The end of the transfer window came, and he was still unattached. He would have to wait until September before NEC Nijmegen signed the then 19-year-old.
Trésor would immediately play in the senior team, where he got quite a bit of playing time. At that time, NEC was in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie, Netherlands’ second tier. Bar a couple of games with the club’s U21s, he was solidly a first-team player, starting 10 times. He would come on as a substitute 15 times in the Kampioen Divisie as well. Most often deployed on the left wing or as an attacking midfielder, the promise was on full display. Trésor would go on to score six times that season and assist twice.
He would also score in the first leg of NEC’s promotion playoff against RKC. Despite going into the return leg with a 2-0 lead, it would not be enough, as the Waalwijk club turned their fortunes around in the second leg, winning 3-0. Going into the 2019/20 season, Trésor’s name was popping up slowly but surely. Willem II showed interest in the Belgian/Burundian, ultimately bringing him in initially on loan.
The Tricolores were in the Eredivisie at that time, and were looking for attacking reinforcements. His signing would prove to be crucial for them. Trésor starred that season for Willem II, scoring nine goals and six assists in the season disrupted by covid. Willem II finished that campaign in the fifth spot, which was good enough for European football.
Having become an influential part of the squad, Willem II bought him outright for €500k. Trésor would play every minute of the club’s two games in the Europa League, where he registered another goal and assist against Luxembourg’s Progrès Niederkorn. They would go on to lose to Rangers in the third qualifying round.
His second season with Willem II would prove to be his turning point. He featured in every competitive match for the Tilburg club, scoring four goals and 11 assists. Continuing to operate largely as a number 10 or on the left, Trésor’s dribbling ability made defenders struggle to keep up with him. Despite finishing 14th in the Eredivisie that season, it was evident that Trésor would not be staying at the club past the summer.
Return to Belgian Football
It would be a return to Belgian football for Ndayishimiye, this time at first-team level, and at a different club. Genk would bring Trésor in for €3.50 million. Many expectations were of him, but also of the club. Genk had just come off of a second-place finish the season prior, winning the cup in the process. Once again playing in Europe, Trésor played a combined 95 minutes in the club’s 4-2 aggregate defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League third qualifying round.
It would prove to be an incredibly difficult season for Trésor and Genk. Despite all the momentum they had going into the new campaign, everything would go crashing down. Finishing bottom of their Europa League group, Genk would not even be title challengers. Trésor would go on to start just 14 of the club’s 51 matches, failing to score at all. He would chip in with eight assists, but in the end, the Smurfs would just miss out on the European playoff test match.
Going into the current campaign, things needed to improve for Trésor and Genk. A new coach came in as Wouter Vrancken was brought in from Mechelen. With no European football to contend with, Genk could primarily focus on the league. Yet Vrancken had another task on his hands: to get the best out of several players who underperformed the year before. That included Trésor.
Vracnken has used his energetic 4-2-3-1 formation used at Mechelen to great success. But maybe his best change in the team this season was deploying Trésor solely on the left wing. Throughout his career, the former Belgian youth international would either play on the wing or in the center of the attack behind the striker. Bar the first match of the season, where he played as a 10, every other match has seen him play on the wing. That has worked to a devastating effect.
In the first four matches of the season, Trésor had already scored three times and assisted twice. That is his best start to a season in his career. Although he has only scored three goals since (at the time of writing), it has been the assists that have gotten all the attention.
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After losing the first match to Club Brugge, Genk came roaring back. They would go on to win 17 of 18 matches, drawing the other to local rivals Sint-Truiden. A streak of 12 wins between league and cup would come to a surprising halt at relegation-threatened Kortrijk in December.
In the 24 league games played, Trésor has a whopping 16 assists. At one point during the lengthy winning run, he managed an assist in six consecutive games. This form came just before the World Cup, which made many fans within the Belgian game question Roberto Martinez’s decision not to even select Trésor in the preliminary squad.
The only other player in the Jupiler Pro League this campaign to have double digits in assists is fellow teammate Joseph Painstil (10). No player in the league has more goal contributions than Trésor’s 22 so far. Painstil again has the next best in that regard, with 20 goals and assists from 24 games.
During the January transfer market, it was revealed that Vincent Kompany had expressed concrete interest in bringing Trésor to Burnley. However, there was simply no way that Genk would let go of one of their best-performing players. Unfortunately for the Limburgers, they would still lose top scorer Paul Onuachu to Southampton. Many of Trésor’s assists were to the Nigerian striker, resulting in many questioning whether the side will be able to find goals as they did while Onuachu was there.
One thing is for certain: Mike Trésor has made himself known. Regardless of whether Genk holds off Union St. Gilloise for the title, it will be very difficult for them to keep hold of their rising star. With an €8.00 million price tag at the time of writing, several clubs from Europe’s top five leagues will surely want his signature in the summer. Until then, Trésor could end the season with a league title and the assist trophy.
By: David Parkes / @dpnina10
Featured Image: Johan Eyckens / AFP