The Jupiler Pro League has lost some top performers in the past two years (Courtois, De Bruyne, Witsel, Defour, etc.) but there are always new faces coming through. It’s far too soon for Anderlecht to cash in on the likes of Dennis Praet but there are players who have either served their time or who are paid by a club that find it hard to turn down good money. Agents are always trying to move their players on of course and almost every player interviewed has his sights set on the Premier League. Rumours abound and the following is my idea of which players will be moving sooner or later.
Carlos Bacca (26, Club Brugge)
Bacca is in his second season at Club Brugge and is currently the league’s leading goal scorer with 17 in 17 matches. He did little in his first season but has looked much happier and been much more effective since September. His problem is that his salary is low in footballing terms – around 500,000 euros per annum – and his agent has found clubs willing to pay around 3.5 million euros for his services (Turkish side Kasimpasa and Lokomotiv Moscow have been mentioned). Club Brugge want to keep him and certainly would want at least 5 million euros if he did leave. ‘La Dernière Heure’ reported that Bacca would be willing to buy out his contract if necessary.
Chance of move in January: 7/10; summer window: 8/10.Lucas Biglia (26, Anderlecht)
Anderlecht’s captain has been hoping to progress to a bigger league for several years. He has an arrangement that he can leave Brussels if any club is willing to pay 8 million euros. To that must be added 2 million euros for agents’ commissions. Anderlecht have also said they will reduce the fee at the end of the season. However, Biglia said ‘goodbye’ to the fans in December and wants to leave now. No club has yet agreed to pay the required amount and he has gone ‘on strike’ saying he’s too ill to join the training camp in Spain. He is reportedly suffering from a migraine. This kind of tactic worked for Christian Benteke last summer but he had a club that wanted him badly. Biglia has been linked with several clubs in Italy and England but it’s hard to forecast the end of this saga.
Chance of move in January: 7/10; summer window: 10/10.
Eidur Gudjohnsen (34, Cercle Brugge)
The Icelandic striker joined Cercle Brugge in the summer to the surprise of many. Although he’s scored almost a goal per game, Cercle are bottom of the league and have sacked the coach – Bob Peeters, who apparently made a good impression on Gudjohnsen. The striker can leave Belgium for another club for free but a Jupiler Pro League outfit must pay a fee. Club Brugge fancy the player and are willing to pay the 450,000 euros needed. Torino are thought to be interested but Club Brugge – who share a stadium with Cercle – are in pole position.
Chance of move in January: 9/10; summer window: 10/10.
Habib Habibou (25, Zulte Waregem)
Habibou is a striker who started his career at PSG and has scored a few goals for Zulte Waregem in the past few years. The team is currently second in the Jupiler Pro League and that has brought scouts to the club; it’s also the current home of Thorgan Hazard. Habibou has reportedly been talking to QPR, with the London club being willing to pay 1.5 million euros. Leeds United are thought to be willing to pay the same amount but the striker fancies the Premier League. He’s big and strong and he could do a ‘Benteke’ and surprise a few people, although perhaps not as much as the Villa man has done.
Chance of move in January: 7/10; summer window: 9/10.
Roland Juhasz (29, Anderlecht)
Juhasz has been a great club servant for the Brussels team. He’s dropped out of contention following the arrival of John Van den Brom at Anderlecht and he’s been told he can leave. The Hungarian stopper is keen to move on and there were recent reports that Trabzonspor had reached an agreement with the player, after offering 750,000 euros. These reports have been denied by the player. Sunderland were said to be willing to pay 2.5 million but that report has not been confirmed by either club. The only certain thing is that he will be leaving Anderlecht in January.
Chance of move in January: 10/10;
Junior Malanda (18, Zulte Waregem)
Another Zulte Waregem player in the spotlight, Malanda is a central defender/defensive midfield and captain of the Belgium U19 side. He spent several years at Lille before joining the Belgian club. Malanda has only been in the first team since September and he’s not the main reason why Zulte are second in the league. However, he’s 18, built like Romelu Lukaku and has obviously got room for improvement. Anderlecht have said they can’t afford him and Club Brugge are thought to have offered 3.5 million euros, with Zulte hoping for more. Fulham have reportedly offered 6 million but this seems unlikely for a player with half a season in the Belgian league.
Chance of move in January: 7/10; summer window: 9/10.Dieumerci Mbokani (27, Anderlecht)
Mbokani is the main man at Anderlecht; he’s scored 15 goals in 15 games as his club has raced eight points clear at the top. He’s off to CAN with his Congolese team-mates and is favourite to win the Golden Boot (player of the year) later this month. Mbokani failed at Monaco and Wolfsburg but has looked pretty sharp with Anderlecht. He can look uninterested at times but doubtless several clubs will be watching his progress come the summer.
Chance of move in January: 3/10; summer window: 9/10.
‘Petit Pele’ Mboyo (25, Gent)
Mboyo has, to put it mildly, a chequered past. He was jailed as a teenager for his part in a gang-rape. While serving time, Mboyo gained a place on the rehabilitation programme entitled Football in Prison, now disbanded. He was able to join Charleroi, subsequently moving to Kortrijk and, two years ago, Gent. He recently made his debut, as a striker, in the Belgian national team. As a young teenager, Mboyo played for Anderlecht with Vincent Kompany, Anthony Vanden Borre and, his own cousin, Geoffrey Mujangi Bia. According to Kompany, ‘Pelé’ Mboyo stood out as the top player (“la pearl rare”). Mboyo was recently appointed captain of Gent but lost that post after arguing with and criticising fans. Rumours are circulating that Standard Liege and Norwich are keen to bring the player in.
Chance of move in January: 5/10; summer window: 7/10.
Jeremy Perbet (28, Mons)
French striker Perbet was the league’s leading scorer last season and was not impressed when that did not earn him a move. He’s improved this season after a bit of a tiff with Enzo Scifo and has scored 11 goals in 20 outings. The impression though is that he’s unlikely to make it at a much higher level than the Belgian league. Sienna have recently been mentioned as showing some interest.
Chance of move in January: 3/10; summer window: 6/10.
Vadis Odjidja (23, Club Brugge)
Vadis Odjidja joined Everton in the summer but his papers were registered a few minutes late and the move was cancelled. He’s hoping to move to the Premier league in January but the Goodison Park club has been quiet on the subject. Vadis looked excellent a year ago and seemed set for the top. The club has struggled though and he has not performed consistently this season in a side that struggled under Georges Leekens. In reality, Club Brugge would like to bring Malanda in (see above) and ship Vadis Odjidja out.
Chance of move in January: 3/10; summer window: 5/10.
William Vainqueur (24, Standard Liege)
Signed from Nantes for 2 million euros, Vainqueur has found his feet in his second season at Standard and is now the main man in midfield. His club has said he’s not for sale – Fulham showed interest – but Standard always sell if the right money is on the table.
Chance of move in January: 2/10; summer window: 6/10.
Jelle Van Damme (29, Standard Liege)
Van Damme is the captain of Standard and has recently been slotted in at left back, much to the disappointment of Seb Pocognoli. He’s approaching 30 and might be thinking about one final move – after eight clubs, including a longish spell at Anderlecht. It’s unlikely that Standard will sell him but rumours have circulated about a move to Genk. See comment about Vainqueur above.
Chance of move in January: 3/10; summer window: 5/10.