Top five: Belgians outside of the Premier League
Will talented Belgians such as Axel Witsel, Toby Alderweireld & Nacer Chadli be Premier League players in the future?
The Premier League nowadays is full of talent, including many players from Belgium.
Manchester City's Vincent Kompany lifted the title last season, Marouane Fellaini has received rave reviews for outstanding performances for Everton, as has Romelu Lukaku at West Brom. Jan Vertonghen has settled into the Premier League very well with Spurs, Christian Benteke has done likewise at Aston Villa and Eden Hazard is showing us why Chelsea paid Lille £35m for his services.
But what about the Belgians currently outside of the English top flight?
These are the top five that we could see in the Premier League sometime soon.
Toby Alderweireld | Ajax
Toby Alderweireld is a 24-year-old defender who can play either centre-back or right-back. He's the next Belgian defender to come out of Ajax's youth academy, after Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen. Alderweireld, like the other two, arrived at Ajax's youth academy from Belgian side Germinal Beerschot, with whom they had an affiliation from 1999 to 2003.
And also like the other two, it seems like a move to England is imminent. He's been linked with both the north London sides, but more recently with Liverpool and Everton, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him in the Premier League next season.
Axel Witsel | Zenit St. Petersburg
At the start of his career, Witsel formed a midfield trio with Marouane Fellaini and Steven Defour at Standard Liege as they won the Belgian championship. A move to Benfica for €10m followed, as they won the Portuguese Cup in his first season there. But then Zenit came in and purchased Witsel for €40m, along with Hulk for €55m, to show that they mean business.
Still only 24, it isn't impossible that we will never see Witsel in the Premier League, but for a man of his talent, it would be a devastating blow if he didn't one day play Premier League football.
Dries Mertens | PSV Eindhoven
Just this season alone in the Eredivisie, Mertens has 13 goals and 14 assists from just 23 games, which is exceptional. They haven't lost when he's scored, and his total record in the Eredivisie with both FC Utrecht and PSV reads 50 goals and 52 assists from 122 games, all from the left wing, which is remarkable.
He was bought by PSV along with Kevin Strootman from FC Utrecht for a combined total of €13m - a bargain looking back at it. He'd fit right into a Liverpool side who tend to do a bit of shopping in the Dutch league, signing players such as Oussama Assiadi, Luis Suarez, Dirk Kuyt and who could forget Ryan Babel. His record speaks for itself, another outstanding talent.
Nacer Chadli | FC Twente
Chadli actually made his international debut for Morocco against Northern Ireland in 2010, but decided to switch allegiance to turn out for the country of his birth, Belgium, since the Northern Ireland game was a non-competitive international.
Tottenham fans may remember him from their adventure in the Champions League, as he scored against them home and away. This season, he's got eight goals in 17 games in the Eredivisie, having had two month-long injuries, preventing him from playing more often.
Chadli's been linked with Everton and Manchester City, and very nearly joined Fulham at the start of the season, so it's likely we'll see him in the Premier LEague in the near future.
Radja Nainggolan | Cagliari
Finally, a Belgian who has spent all of his professional career in Italy. You don't get many of them nowadays. Nainggolan moved from Germinal Beerschot to Piacenza aged 17, and made two Serie B outings whilst at that age.
The following season he played 38 times, scoring three times and helping secure a tenth-placed finish for Piacenza, who last year became bankrupt and the team disbanded. Cagliari acquired him on loan in January 2010, before making the deal permanent later in the summer.
His first international cap actually came whilst he was at Piacenza, so he obviously has talent. A defensive midfielder, he's previously been on the radar of both Manchester clubs and could make the move to England soon.
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