NXGN Revisited: How did Batshuayi's wonderkid brother Leya Iseka end up at Barnsley?

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It would be hard to describe Michy Batshuayi's time in English football as anything other than disappointing.

A £33 million ($44m) signing for Chelsea back in 2016, Batshuayi has failed to nail down a regular place at Stamford Bridge, and has since become one of the more well-known members of the Blues' loan army, with his latest move taking him to Besiktas for the 2021-22 campaign.

And so while Batshuayi may have struggled in England, now it is time to see whether his brother can fare any better.

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Aaron Leya Iseka is the younger sibling of Batshuayi, having taken their mother's maiden name while Michy shares his father's moniker, and joined ambitious Championship club Barnsley this summer for an undisclosed fee.

As with Batshuayi, much was expected of Leya Iseka, not least from Goal, as he was ranked 42nd on the inaugural NXGN list of the world's best teenage footballers in 2016.

The striker caught the eye after making his professional debut for Anderlecht at just 17, but since then his fledgling career has been a tale of injuries, failed loans and struggling to find a settled home, with it hoped he will now finally settle at Oakwell after being awarded a work permit to begin his Barnsley career in late August.

Coming through the youth system at Anderlecht, Leya Iseka's goal record seemed to suggest that he was on the path towards emulating another goal machine who graduated from the Belgian giants: Romelu Lukaku.

In the inaugural UEFA Youth League of 2013-14, the then-15-year-old impressed despite playing four years above his actual age, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory over Olympiacos as Anderlecht went out at the group stage.

The following season, he netted nine times in seven matches as the Belgians reached the semi-finals, including the winner in their last-16 victory over Barcelona and another hat-trick in the 5-0 quarter-final thrashing of Porto as calls grew louder for him to earn first-team opportunities.

"He has enormous talent and has already taken big steps, but he still has a lot of progress to make," then-Anderlecht manager Besnik Hasi said. "Provided he keeps giving the same effort, Iseka will be able to lead the Anderlecht attack in the near future. I have a lot of faith in Aaron."

His Youth League performances were enough to earn Leya Iseka a professional contract amid the biggest clubs in Europe circulating for his signature. But in September 2015, just weeks after putting pen to paper on that deal, he suffered a cruciate ligament rupture and missed almost the entire 2015-16 campaign.

Despite this, Leya Iseka was still highly regarded enough to feature in NXGN, with his entry reading: "Anderlecht are anxiously awaiting the return of the Brussels-born striker of Congolese extraction.

"Due to his movement and eye for goal, comparisons have, inevitably, already been made with his older brother, but Leya Iseka is more agile, though less powerful."

Marseille certainly noted those comparisons, and in July 2016 signed Leya Iseka on loan in the wake of his brother departing the club for Chelsea. Batshuayi netted 23 goals in all competitions during his final year at Stade Velodrome, and it was hoped that Leya Iseka would help fill the void left by his sibling's exit.

But a combination of trying to rediscover his form and fitness following his long lay-off and the pressure of replicating Batshuayi proved too much, and and after eight goalless appearances in Ligue 1, Leya Iseka's move was cut short and he returned to Belgium.

That feeling of disappointment became the norm during Leya Iseka's subsequent spells at Zulte Waregem (loan), Toulouse and Metz (loan), returning only 16 goals from a combined 93 league appearances.

There is hope, though, that dropping into the second tier of English football will help revitalise the former teenage prodigy's career.

Barnsley, surprise play-off contenders in the Championship last season, have gained a reputation in recent years for taking risks with both their signings and managerial appointments, scouring Europe for unheralded talents as they aim to emulate recent promotion successes for Huddersfield Town, Norwich City and Brentford.

Certainly, the Tykes have been keen to get their man going and have been left infuriated by visa issues, with Leya Iseka's work permit taking four weeks to be granted.

"This is a joke, this is ludicrous," Barnsley co-chairman Paul Conway raged to the Yorkshire Post. "I don't understand this country, this is a big industry and we pay a lot of taxes here. Why can't we have a standard process for the timing of issuing of visas?

"[Aaron] has been approved to play in England... Our logical assumption was that we'd get the visa in about a week. We have three sets of lawyers working on this and the Belgian Government actually helping out as these are Belgian citizens.

"This is a joke. At the same time, you see Manchester United and Chelsea get in players remarkably quickly, and that is probably because they have better relations with the Home Office than Barnsley Football Club."

Leya Iseka himself showed a sense of humour about his enforced wait for a debut, using a Spongebob Squarepants meme to channel his frustrations that suggested that a sense of humour and social media canniness runs in the family.

Once he was eventually allowed to take the field, his first three games as a Barnsley player saw him play two very different roles.

He came on as a half-time substitute for his debut in a 3-0 defeat to Bournemouth, playing as a number nine, before playing the first halves of draws against Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers, where he was deployed as an attacking midfielder.

This indicates there is no certainty as yet regarding his best position, but there is at least a willingness to give him opportunities and explore his strengths.

Standing at six foot, Leya Iseka is a more physical presence than Batshuayi, though there is still hope that he can find the agility and yard of pace he showed as a teenager, and that this has not been lost through his serious knee injury.

A 20-second clip on Leya Iseka's Twitter page certainly provides encouragement - he scores three goals in a training drill in that short time, the first where he turns and instinctively slots in the corner, the second in which he powers past the defence and keeper to slot home, before firing in from 15 yards for the third.

With a range of finishing and an eye for goal, the talent which earned Leya Iseka a NXGN place may still be present. If he can find it, he could yet still put his older brother in the shade.