Over the last few years Europe’s top leagues have seen a sudden influx of Belgian talent and it seems as if the squad is gelling together right in time for the 2014 World Cup.
The new generation of Belgian football have quality all over the pitch, from Premier League winning captain Vincent Kompany to skilful winger Eden Hazard to young strikers Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku. A variety of talent such as that will be a match for anyone at next year’s competition.
Belgium currently sit top of their World Cup qualification group ahead of Croatia by goal difference. Having not qualified for a major tournament since 2002 this is a great opportunity to break that record for Belgium and their fans.
A high percentage of the national squad started their careers in their home country mostly for Anderlecht or Genk, where the academies deserve a lot of credit for giving the players a platform to build from.
Two of the first players from the new generation to move to big clubs in Europe were Kompany and Marouane Fellaini. Both players have played vital roles for their teams and have earned great praise for their performances.
Kompany has had great success with Manchester City winning the FA Cup and the clubs first league title since 1968, while Fellaini has been in impressive form again this season which has increased speculation that he may be moving elsewhere in the summer.
Since Kompany and Fellaini moved to England a large number of Belgians have also been signed by Premier League sides. Thomas Vermaelen moved from Ajax to Arsenal in 2009, Moussa Dembele to Fulham and Simon Mignolet to Sunderland in 2010 and a trio of young players Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois all moved to Chelsea in the space of a year.
Following more consistent performances across Europe another five talented Belgians moved to the Premier League in 2012. Kevin Mirallas joined Everton after showcasing his abilities for Greek side Olympiacos and young forward Benteke joined Aston Villa where he has proved to be a revelation for the relegation-threatened side after consistent performances in which he bagged himself 19 league goals.
Versatile defender Jan Vertonghen moved to Spurs from Ajax in the summer of 2012 and has been one of the stand out performers for the Champions League chasing side. His fine form was rewarded with a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
After a long running transfer saga Chelsea secured the signature of young Eden Hazard with the fee rumoured to be around £32 million. With such a high price tag there was a lot of pressure on the young man but he didn’t disappoint and he has proved to be a great signing, forming a deadly link up with similar players Juan Mata and Oscar. He also was selected in the PFA Team of the Year. His younger brother Thorgan also joined Chelsea but was sent out on loan at the start of the season.
It’s not just England where the Belgians have been earning their trade but also across the world. Courtious has been in outstanding form for Atletico Madrid this season and is arguably the best young keeper in the world today. Like Hazard another big money move last summer was midfielder Axel Witsel, who moved from Benfica to Russian club Zenit for a massive 40 million euros.
With the wide variety of talent that Belgium has, it would be hard not to argue that they are one of the best up and coming international sides. However, only time will tell how things go for the golden generation.
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