The Red Devils, the Belgian national team, have become one of the strongest squads in the world due to their ‘Golden Generation’ of players like Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois. But there’s life after these world-class players as Belgium is producing young guns at a superb level. Their national league is moving along, boosting some great talents. These are the five best Under-21 talents in Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League.
5. Siebe Schrijvers (20, Belgium) – KRC Genk
He’s the ‘oldest one’ of this bunch, but Siebe Schrijvers has worked his way to becoming one of the better forwards in the Jupiler Pro League. And, he’s still just 20 years old. Schrijvers made his professional debut for Genk at the age of 16 in September 2012. Despite featuring in 27 league games during the 2014/2015 season, he struggled to perform and was sent on loan to Waasland-Beveren before returning in January. Schrijvers has some Dries Mertens in him and despite probably never becoming that good, he’s shown flashes of brilliance with his technical skills.
4. Sander Berge (19, Norway) – KRC Genk
The Belgian team with the lowest average age is not KAS Eupen but KRC Genk, which is pretty staggering considering they are considered a top club. They sold Jamaican jewel Leon Bailey to Bayer Leverkusen in January but were able to land Sander Berge. The Norwegian defensive midfielder took over the reigns from another talent Bryan Heynen and was crucial in Genk’s Europa League success story, reaching the quarter-finals. He’s shown to be a reader of the game, giving structure to the team’s midfield and defensive setup, and being Genk’s first passing option. The departure of Wilfred Ndidi was quickly forgotten.
3. Henry Onyekuru (19, Nigeria) – KAS Eupen
There aren’t many Belgian players to be found on Eupen’s squad list. Just seven, to be exactly. However, with an average age of just 24 they managed to avoid relegation pretty easily due to a number of talented players. The most intriguing one is Henry Onyekuru. The 19-year-old boosts skills we’re familiar with regarding Nigerian forwards: pace, dribbling and crazy goals. Onyekuru has provided 12 goals and 7 assists this season, mainly being deployed as a left winger. A huge step forward from his first season in Belgium, when he helped Eupen to the top flight with six goals.
2. Landry Nany Dimata (19, Belgium) – KV Oostende
When Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was recently faced with some injury problems in the striker segment, he reportedly considered giving Landry Dimata call-up. That actually says everything about this 19-year-old’s talent. Dimata only made his professional debut this season, making the move from Standard’s youth ranks to KV Oostende. Since, he’s hit the net 11 times in the Jupiler Pro League. Youri Tielemans and Club Brugge’s Jelle Vossen are the only Belgians scoring more goals this season. Dimata has a strong eye for the goal at his young age, and excellent timing in the box. And he’s also skilled and quick enough to play as a winger.
1. Youri Tielemans (19, Belgium) – RSC Anderlecht
By now, there aren’t many top European clubs left who haven’t scouted Youri Tielemans. Anderlecht’s crown jewel in midfield has taken great steps forward since making his professional debut at the tender age of 16 in July 2013. Since, Tielemans has grown into the club’s best player, being able to feature in different midfield roles, with his best being a free roaming offensive one. Tielemans is very mature for his age and extremely smart on and off the pitch. He’s ready for the next step and seems to get better when surrounded by better teammates. His 18 goals and 11 assists this season are stellar prove of that.
Photo Credit: VTM.be
By: Vince Van Genechten (@VVGenechten)