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The Belgium youngsters who can succeed Eden Hazard

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There is something very sad about the way Eden Hazard’s career has panned out since leaving Chelsea. The Belgian attacker was rightfully regarded as one of the best players in the world towards the end of his time in the Premier League.

That is why Real Madrid spent £143m to bring him to the Spanish capital back in 2019. It was a dream move for Hazard, but unfortunately, it became a move from the Premier League to Real Madrid in the mould of Gareth Bale rather than Cristiano Ronaldo or Luka Modric.

He has scored seven goals and got 11 assists in 72 appearances for Los Blancos, far below the output that was expected. That has understandably impacted his form for the Belgian national team of which he used to be the figurehead.

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After the disappointment of Belgium’s group stage exit at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, Hazard has called time on his international career and will focus on either getting back on track at Real Madrid or finding form elsewhere.

That begs the question; who can replace him in the Belgium team going forward as a major source of creativity?

The phrase ‘golden generation’ is used constantly about this Belgium team, and now it seems that a revolution is needed. Roberto Martinez has gone, Hazard has gone, and others will follow, so now another generation is needed.

Which young Belgian players are on the scene right now who could feasibly bring the creativity needed to win a major tournament? Given Hazard was effective in the middle and on both wings when at his best, we’re being fairly liberal with the positions here.

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Jeremy Doku

Jeremy Doku

Jeremy Doku had limited involvement for Belgium in Qatar / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Jeremy Doku is a name that has been on the scene with the Belgian national team for a couple of years now and he impressed during EURO 2020. He did not have much of an impact in Qatar though when used and it seems he is yet to make good on his potential.

Doku was a star at Anderlecht before he made the slightly unexpected move to Rennes while being linked with much bigger clubs. Considering he joined the French side for €26m, Rennes will have hoped for a better return than the four goals and six assists he has got in 65 appearances.

He is still only 20 years old though and should he find more form in France or move elsewhere, Doku still has the potential to be a really key attacking player from the wide areas for Belgium in the future.

Charles De Ketelaere

Charles De Ketelaere

De Ketelaere has mostly come off the bench for AC Milan so far / Ciancaphoto Studio/GettyImages

AC Milan player Charles De Ketelaere is in a key phase of his development right now. He came through very early at Club Brugge and scored 25 goals and got 20 assists in 120 appearances, winning league titles in the process.

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That led to AC Milan dropping €32m on him in the summer. Milan has been a great place for young players to get time and space to develop, but he is yet to make any real impact in Italy. The club and much of the fanbase has faith in him and he will be shown patience, but it could take longer than hoped before he becomes a regular starter, if at all.

He is still just 21 years old despite all of those senior appearances, and in terms of his position, he is the closest to Hazard. There is a player there and Milan will be doing Belgium a great favour if they can get him to his best.

Yari Verschaeren

Yari Verschaeren

Yari Verscharen has been in Europa Conference League action for Anderlecht / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Much like Doku, Yari Verschaeren is another name that seemed destined for the limelight a couple of years ago and then struggled to kick on. As with so many young players that are immediately expected to change the world, he is still young and still has a chance to be a star. He is now 21 years old.

He is a very centrally-focused attacker and has been in fairly decent form with Anderlecht this season, with three goals and three assists across all competitions. Those numbers can be improved upon, but there is some output to build on.

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Much like De Ketelaere, he came through very young and already has 136 appearances for Anderlecht. With more space in the Belgian setup, Verschaeren could become a big name again.

Anouar Ait El Hadj

SOCCER CPL D10 RSCA FUTURES VS FCV DENDER EH

Anouar Ait El Hadj is another talented youngster at Anderlecht / FILIP LANSZWEERT/GettyImages

Aged 20, Anouar Ait El Hadj is a less established name than the previous on this list but is another exciting talent to come through at Anderlecht, one of the best academies in the world.

He prefers to play down the middle and has been battling with Verschaeren for space this season, but he can also play deeper and on the left wing. He has only played a handful of games this term for Anderlecht but there is excitement at the club about his future and he is one to keep an eye on.

Cisse Sandra

SOCCER CPL D10 CLUB NXT VS DEINZE

Cisse Sandra is one of many talents at Club Brugge / FILIP LANSZWEERT/GettyImages

Cisse Sandra plays slightly deeper than you’d picture Hazard playing, but he can be effective further forward too when needed.

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Sandra is just 18 years old and is making a healthy number of appearances for Club Brugge in the Jupiler League while also impressing for the Under-18s. He is a name to keep an eye on and the new Belgium coach could look at fast-tracking him into the first team soon.



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EPL

Cody Gakpo reflects on first month at Liverpool

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Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo has opened up on his first month on the books at Anfield, admitting he is still getting used to Jurgen Klopp’s tactics.

The Dutchman was wanted by a number of elite sides, with Manchester United expected to win the race for his signature, but it was Liverpool who snuck in and agreed to pay an initial £35m to bring Gakpo to England.

The 23-year-old, who made his name as a left winger but has spent time as a striker at Liverpool, is yet to score after four appearances for his new side, but he told club media that is it just a matter of getting to grips with his new surroundings

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“My feeling, personally, is everyone in the team has so much quality,” he said. “That is what I see in training and in phases in the games.

“It is also a part of football, that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. We just have to keep improving, working hard, and the quality will come out. Then, you’re going to see the real Liverpool.”

He continued: “From a football perspective, it’s a new environment on the pitch, with new players and a new team. I can tell it’s a really great group. Every day I am looking forward to working with them, to train hard and to play the games. I am trying to adapt as quickly as possible, to improve every day and in the end show the best version of myself.

“Off the pitch, to be honest, I haven’t been in the city so many times yet. Most of the time I have been in the hotel. I am moving this week, actually. That’s also something I’m looking forward to.”

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Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Gakpo also confessed that he is still trying to adapt to his new role in Liverpool’s team.

“It is a little bit different to what I’m used to,” the Dutchman admitted. “Normally, I have played on the left for almost the past three years.

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“It’s something I can improve, playing in the striker role, and I want to show my quality there. It’s a great position and playing there makes me more complete as a technical player.





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Fulham launch bid Fluminense midfielder Andre

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Fulham have made a bid to sign Fluminense midfielder Andre, 90min understands.

The 21-year-old has quickly established himself as one of Fluminense’s top players and a number of sides across Europe have expressed an interest in luring him away from his homeland in 2023.

Sources have confirmed to 90min that Fulham have approached Fluminense to try and thrash out a deal, but the Brazilian side are reluctant to part ways with their star player during the 2023 campaign.

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Andre, who has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool, has spoken out about the interest and insisted his focus remains solely on his current employers.

“Obviously, I’m focused and very happy,” Andre said recently. “I just renewed my contract until 2026.

“It’s normal to get offers, but I’m focused here on Fluminense and having an excellent season.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Andre’s agent, Carlos Leite, also took to Instagram to confirm that the 21-year-old had agreed to remain with Fluminense until the end of the current campaign, which runs over the entire calendar year.

“Thanks to the great work carried out, Andre entered the radars of some of the biggest European clubs and, with that, he has received several enquiries and some official proposals,” Leite wrote.

“However, the player and Fluminense, through president Mario Bittencourt, sealed an agreement for the midfielder to remain at the club at this time, with all the dedication and commitment, always seeking the best for Fluminense in all competitions.”

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Sporting CP manager makes Pedro Porro admission as Tottenham talks continue

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Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim has warned Tottenham that he will not take right-back Pedro Porro out of his starting lineup until a transfer has been 100% agreed.

90min understands Tottenham are confident they will get a deal over the line for the 23-year-old eventually, but Sporting’s reluctance to budge from their asking price of Porro’s €45m release clause has led to some lengthy negotiations which are not yet over.

And while Porro is still contracted to Sporting, Amorim will not hesitate to use the right-back and risk an injury which could see the entire move collapse.

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“Porro does not leave before the game,” Amorim said ahead of Saturday’s Allianz Cup final against Porto. “Clubs have to come first, and as far as I know, a player who is able to play and is signed up by a club, he has to go to games.

“I realise that [negotiations] involve a lot of players’ minds, but the indication I have is that Porro is fit, and the most important thing for me, as a manager, is that if he wasn’t there, there would be someone else. The game cannot be played with just one player. Porro is fit. Whatever has to happen will happen, we are prepared for all scenarios.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Amorim continued: “Is this Porro’s last game at the club? I don’t know. There are a few days left until February 1, then everyone will know if Porro stays or leaves.

“Porro hasn’t left yet. We are scouting, but not everything is easy, you’re in a real hurry to send Porro away!”

Spurs have repeatedly tried to lower Sporting’s asking price for Porro by including at least one player in the deal, but the Portuguese side have been clear about their determination to hold out for the right-back’s release clause – in full.





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