Who’s next off the Belgian production line?
Belgium is hot news lately. Romelu “The Beast” Lukaku fired Belgium to Brasil after the 1-2 victory against Croatia. With still one match to go, against Wales, Belgium are first in the group, eight points clear of the original group favourite Croatia. There’s already been a lot of stuff written about Belgium and this current crop of players. We wondered if the success was set to continue and decided to glimpse into the crystal ball to see what’s coming. Is this really a good mix of talent and experience together or can we even dream of some longer success?
What will happen with Belgian football when all these top players retire? Here at BeNefoot we analysed the upcoming prospects and the possible starting eleven and bench in ten years time. From the current squad we only selected Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku and Zakaria Bakkali as we only call up players born in 1992 or later. Ten years is long time and a lot of things can and will happen but we give it a try.
Thibaut Courtois, 31 years old, goalkeeper (Chelsea, loaned to Atletico Madrid)
We don’t need to tell you much about this talented goalkeeper as most of you guys will already know him. By the age of 21 he had already won the Belgian competition with Racing Genk and with Atletico Madrid he won the Europa League, European Super Cup and the Copa del Rey. Experts are saying that goalkeepers are at their best at the age of 28-32. Courtois would be 31 years old then so he would be even stronger then he already is now. Read more about him here.
Jordan Lukaku, 29 years old, left back (Anderlecht, loaned to KV Oostende)
Jordan Lukaku is a mainstay of Johan Walem’s Belgian U21 team. Anderlecht loaned him this season to KV Oostende and so far that doesn’t look a good decision. The younger brother of Romelu Lukaku is a very attacking left back. In the youth of Anderlecht, the full-backs need to attack but at KV Oostende the biggest concern for a defender is defending. Of course Jordan Lukaku is also a good defender but it will take some time to adjust his style.
Jason Denayer, 28 years old, central defender (Manchester City)
Here’s a name you may not have heard of, even in Belgium. This young centre-back left RSC Anderlecht at a young age to play in the Jean-Marc Guillou academy. In his period at Anderlecht he used to play as a striker but Manchester City have transformed the youngster into a central defender and that’s probably something they won’t regret. Denayer plays this season in the UEFA Youth League with Manchester City where he scored a goal in the astonishing 6-0 victory against Bayern München. A boy to watch!
Mathias Bossaerts, 27 years old, central defender (Manchester City)
Another youth player who left RSC Anderlecht at the age of 16, as his parents received a very tempting offer, especially financially. Vincent Kompany was also an important factor in this deal as he said that Bossaerts would be wise in moving to Manchester City. Most of the Anderlecht fans weren’t happy that such a young player left the club for money, a lot of money. The future will tell us if Bossaerts and his parents made the correct decision at that time.
Marnick Vermijl, 31 years old, right back (Manchester United)
Marnick Vermijl, another Belgian youngster in the Premier League, is a player of Manchester United. The Reds loaned him this season to NEC Nijmegen as he would get more playing time in the Netherlands. In the last few weeks Vermijl has had his chance but he needs some time to adapt to his new team and playing style in the Netherlands. Although clearly talented, Vermijl has still a lot to improve if he ever wants to wear the shirt of the Red Devils, both of Manchester United and Belgium.
Junior Malanda has made a great impact since joining Zulte Waregem last season. Lille OSC didn’t believe in the talent of the central defender and sold him for less then €300,000 to Zulte Waregem. Francky Dury transformed him into an no-nonsense defensive midfielder in what looks like the best move in his career so far. Malanda surprised everybody in his first season in the Jupiler League and won duels like he already played ten years at the highest level in Belgium. Like we already said before in our article about Junior Malanda, Wolfsburg did a fantastic job by signing the young Belgian defending midfielder. Read more about him here.
Youri Tielemans, 26 years old, defensive/central midfielder (RSC Anderlecht)
Anderlecht is having a hard time at the moment but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, Youri Tielemans. This young central midfielder breathes flair into the side already. Crosses, tackling, dribbling, winning duels, nothing is too difficult for this very young player. At the age of 16 he already showed that he’s capable of doing magical things in the future. Anderlecht will be very careful with their youngster but with the recent results they don’t have a choice other than to let him play.
Adnan Januzaj, 28 years old, central/left midfielder (Manchester United)
Last week, England and the Premier League discovered this Belgian player with roots in Kosovo. He scored two goals in his first start for Manchester United – one with his right foot and one with his left foot. His career is planned and organised by his father. Head of Anderlecht’s youth department Jean Kindermans and the club itself thought they made a good deal by letting Januzaj join Manchester United for quite a reasonable sum at that time, but both should already be kicking themselves as they see what Januzaj already achieved this season. It’s only one match but this boy is gold. His international future is even more up in the air than that of Bakkali but we can dare to dream!
Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, 30 years old, winger (AS Monaco)
Of all the youngsters, Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, is the one who has already made the most progress. He is a certain starter so far for AS Monaco in France, who are co-leaders in Ligue 1 together with Paris Saint-Germain. It says a lot if you realise how much AS Monaco have spent this summer on transfer fees and still see that Carrasco is a regular starter. This year Carrasco will need to make a next step up in his career and become an important player for AS Monaco in the Ligue 1 as he did in Ligue 2. Read more about him here.
Zakaria Bakkali, 27 years old, winger (PSV Eindhoven)
There was a lot of fuss about Zakaria Bakkali since making a splash in the Eredivisie. The talented winger needed to make an important decision in his career. He had the option to play for Belgium or Morroco. Marc Wilmots, national head coach of Belgium, called him up for the two important games against Croatia and Wales, in an attempt to acclimatise him. It appeared to work as Bakkali opted for Belgium. The gifted player has started exceptionally this season in the Eredivisie and already scored some beautiful goals for his club. He had to deal with some injuries recently but it’s likely that Bakkali will get his first minutes against Wales.
Divock Origi, 28 years old, striker (Lille OSC)
The unknown raw diamond of Lille OSC. Divock Origi already got his first few minutes last season at the highest level. He was a regular starter at Lille B but at the end of the season he had the opportunity to show his talent to the bigger crowd. Given time, he surely will get enough chances to show himself. Divock Origi combines strength, pace, technique with some good finishing. Everything what a future top striker needs to have. He showed again how good he is when he scored two beautiful goals with Belgium U19 in this international break.
Theo Defourny, 31 years old, goalkeeper (Olympique Lyon)
I don’t think that a lot of people, except from Antwerp, will know this Belgian goalkeeper. Theo Defourny moved from Royal Antwerp to Olympique Lyon this summer. A lot of teams were interested in the talented goalkeeper but the French-born youngster chose Olympique Lyon. Defourny has dual-nationalities, like many on this list, but plays for Belgium U19.
Dino Arslanagic, 30 years old, central defender (Standard Liège)
One of the few Belgian talents who still plays in Belgium. Standard’s new head coach, Guy Luzon, said at the beginning of the season that he would rotate a lot of players during the season. He kept his word apart from changing the central defenders. Antonio Kanu and Laurent Ciman are undroppable for the coach of Israel. Dino Arslanagic got his chance during the Europa League matches but the youngster was unlucky that Standard Liège played poor so far in Europe. Still, the young central defender doesn’t need to panic as he’s gifted with a lot of talent.
Ibrahima Cissé, 29 years old, defender/defensive midfielder (Standard Liège)
Another youngster of the Louis Dreyfus Academy of Standard Liège. Ibrahima Cissé has been switching between defender and defending midfielder the last couple of years. Guy Luzon sees him as a defending midfielder and that’s also the position we think he has to aim for. Cissé is a strong player who’s fast and a real pit bull in midfield. Alpaslan Öztürk, another Belgian talent, is his biggest rival in midfield. Both players can only become better because of the rivalry. If Standard Liège can keep up the pace in the league, a lot of scouts will have his name at the top of their list at the end of the season.
Dennis Praet, 29 years old, attacking midfielder (RSC Anderlecht)
The press and fans of Anderlecht expect a lot from Praet this season. Due to the poor results of Anderlecht a lot of people hope that Dennis Praet will meet his potential and show the world how talented he is. Not that long ago, Arsenal attempted to convince the attacking midfielder to sign for the English club. Anderlecht offered Dennis Praet a huge wage for young player which he accepted. No doubt about his talent, but this season will be important for him. We all know that he’s capable of doing better.
Charly Musonda Junior, 26 years old, central midfielder (Chelsea)
A very harsh story again for RSC Anderlecht but this is probably the most painful one. Charly Musonda Junior is the son of Charly Musonda, the man who was seen almost as the adopted son of the late Constant Vanden Stock, the former President of RSC Anderlecht. Anderlecht had an agreement with Musonda Jr’s parents that their son would at least stay until the age of 18. Family Musonda, the mother in particularly, couldn’t resist the money that Chelsea had to offer. Charly Musonda Junior is probably the biggest talent that left Anderlecht in the last few seasons. A lot of scouts and analysts are big fans of the from Congolese-origin Belgian, ask Johan Boskamp.
Thorgan Hazard, 30 years old, central/attacking midfielder (Chelsea, loaned to Zulte Waregem)
The younger brother of Eden Hazard has made his own name during the last year in Belgium. He showed us things that nobody expected he could do. He’s a different type of player than his brother. Thorgan Hazard is the conductor of the team. Zulte Waregem isn’t Chelsea though and Thorgan still needs to improve a lot if he ever wants to have the same status as his brother has but there’s music in his game. Next season Thorgan Hazard needs to go to a bigger club or competition so we can see what he really is capable of.
Andreas Pereira, 27 years old, attacking midfielder (Manchester United)
Andreas Pereira is an attacking midfielder who plays for Manchester United. He still plays for the youth teams in Manchester but is one of the big talents born in 1996. Andreas Pereira moved in 2012 from PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United at the age of 15. This season Pereira hasalready impressed in the UEFA Youth League where he already scoring for the Red Devils.
Romelu Lukaku, 30 years old, striker (Chelsea, loaned to Everton)
I don’t need to introduce you to this man. Romelu Lukaku will probably still be in the squad within ten years. With his experience at that age he will be a very important player for Belgium. We’ve put him on the bench as we hope that Divock Origi will become even better then Romelu Lukaku. Maybe at that time 4-3-3 is old news and 4-4-2 will be the new thing again so we can see both Divock Origi and Romelu Lukaku playing.
(PHOTO: featured image from De Morgen)