At about the same time Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini was grappling with £24 million striker Mario Balotelli during a training session bust-up last week, club captain Vincent Kompany was dominating headlines in Belgium.
The deal will only go through if three criteria are met: 1. The club, currently second, is promoted this season. 2. Plans for a 10,000-capacity stadium are approved by Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans. 3. Kompany is allowed to rename the club Brussels United.
You can't quite imagine Balotelli having the same sense of social engagement as his captain, whose Vica foundation focuses on helping underprivileged children in Brussels.
"Vincent transcends football," Steven Martens, the Belgian football federation's general secretary, told
Kompany is also an ambassador for SOS Children's Villages and regularly uses his Twitter account to comment on social injustices around the world: from the French presidential elections (Sarkozy is "an unstable two faced character and his politics are dangerous as its based on exploiting the fear of people"), the British government's withdrawal of aid to Rwanda ("Two faced policies. Stopping aid is not a sanction it's just easy press. Same government trades with the people that are keeping the conflict alive, those who plunder. All about the natural resources") and Belgian paper
On the pitch, Kompany enjoyed a majestic 2012.
Last summer he extended his contract with City to 2018, making him, along with Eden Hazard, the highest-paid Belgian in the Premier League.
"The project here is not just a sporting one," he told former Belgium forward Mbo Mpenza, interviewing him for
"But people won't see this for perhaps another 10 years. I'm happy to be part of all that. It's not a three-year project but rather one for 10, 15, 20 years. It's exciting to think I can be part of those taking the club where it wants to go."
Despite City owners Abu Dhabi United Group spending around ?400 million on new players since taking over in August 2008, Kompany is adamant that the club has not changed.
"Believe me, this remains the club of the city," he told
Kompany's role in that future is secure; Balotelli's is less so. Even if Mancini claimed that owner Sheikh Mansour is a Balotelli fan, "because he recognizes the talent and he exports the name of City over the world," the return on the pitch (this season: one goal in seven league starts) is barely worth the investment off it.
That's not the case with Kompany, whose status is best summed up by
"It's quite simple," he wrote. "Vincent Kompany is our country's best foreign minister."