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Mats Rits: the perfect example that a step back can maximize your career

This season, Mats Rits is one of the key players at reigning champions Club Brugge. In their title-winning season, he played a big role, by playing 31 league games. The defensive midfielder has had an impressive career and he proves that a step to a smaller club can make you a better player in the long term. Let’s take a look at his career.

Mats Rits had a promising start in his professional career. He made his debut for Beerschot AC against KVC Westerlo when he was just 16 years old. This made him the youngest debutant in history for the club, which he still is today. This is already spectacular, but what is even more impressive is the two goals the 16-year-old Rits scored on his debut. This way, Mats Rits rolled his way into professional football starting from the bench and grabbed his minutes when he could.

The development of Rits went down, but at that moment the Dutch club Ajax started to show their interest in the midfielder. Rits wanted to leave Beerschot AC for the capital of the Netherlands, and so he did. But the transfer to Ajax did not went as planned for the Belgian youth international. As seen in the graph, the average Team Level of Ajax was simply too high for Rits. He played his games in the U21 squad of Ajax, but however, his Player Level decreased.

After a one-and-a-half-year, Rits decided to take a step back in his career to get more playing time for a first-team. He joined KV Mechelen and at this club, he started to level his performances of his Beerschot time, and even better. In his first season, he mainly came in from the bench, in his second season he already had a lot more games from the starting eleven. In the four and a half years and 166 games he played for Mechelen, he scored sixteen goals and gave 22 assists. After all these games he was ready for the next step and top-tier squad Club Brugge bought Rits for a transfer fee of around €1,5 million. In his first season at the club, he was already worth the money. He played almost every game as a starter. And as we said at the start of this blog, that did not change after all these years.

As we can see in the graph below, Mats Rits is one of the best players of the Club Brugge-squad according to Player Level. Only Hans Vanaken and Charles De Ketelaere have a higher Player Level than Rits. Taking a look back at the career of Rits, it can be concluded that the step back from him to KV Mechelen was one of the best he could have made. He proves that playing time in the top flight is so important for a young player. A step to a big club can be tempting sometimes because you have the chance to train with star players and maybe earn more money. But again, for the long term playing time is the most important.

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