Belgian internationals on the move – good news or bad?

By | September 4, 2013

Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens - both players on the move. (copyright John Chapman).

Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens – both players on the move. (copyright John Chapman).

Six members of the Belgian international squad have changed clubs this summer. Some of those moves have been smart ones; others seem more of a risk. Here’s a rundown on those who have changed clubs and what their expectations could be.

Marouane Fellaini (Everton to Manchester United)

Fellaini’s last-minute move to Manchester United will give him an even higher profile globally. The move has been approved by Marc Wilmots and it will certainly do him no harm when it comes to the national team. He’s likely to play in a defensive midfield role for the Old Trafford team and that’s where Wilmots sees him performing for Belgium. However, Fellaini’s behind Zenit’s Axel Witsel in the pecking order for that position and the transfer will not change that. Fellaini could also play central midfield as he has done in the past.

Result: A good move for the player but no change in his Belgium status.

Romelu Lukaku chats to Marc Wilmots and the coach is happy. (copyright john Chapman)

Romelu Lukaku chats to Marc Wilmots and the coach is happy. (copyright john Chapman)

Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea to Everton, loan)

This move has also got the nod of approval from Wilmots. It’s clear that Lukaku could have stayed at Chelsea but he wanted regular football and it looks like he got such guarantees from Roberto Martinez. If Lukaku scores goals for Everton and becomes a more complete player, then he could challenge Christian Benteke who will be playing that difficult second season in the Premier League.

Result: Excellent move for the player which should help his Belgium team chances.

Simon Mignolet (Sunderland to Liverpool)

Mignolet is an extremely unlucky keeper in that his time in the national squad coincides with that of another exceptional player in Thibaut Courtois. Both keepers are top-class and Mignolet has never let his country down when called up to the first team. However, in Courtois, Belgium has a keeper of the highest level – both players will surely be ranked one day with Michel Preud’homme and Jean-Marie Pfaff – and he is currently the undisputed number one. Courtois will have to be injured or suffer a dramatic loss of form before Mignolet takes over.

Simon Mignolet - a great start to the season. (copyright John Chapman)

Simon Mignolet – a great start to the season. (copyright John Chapman)

Result: Great move for the player, no change in his chances for Belgium.

Dries Mertens (PSV to Napoli)

Mertens scored a hatful of goals and created many more for PSV last term. He got the move he wished for – to Napoli – but it’s not obvious if he will be a regular in that team. Napoli have started very well and Mertens has been on the bench. If he doesn’t figure in the team (and he’s in competition with José Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne), his chances of starting for Belgium will be zero. Even worse, his place is the squad could be under pressure.

Result: A financially sound move for the player but he’s risking a lot in terms of his place in the national squad.

Toby Alderweireld (Ajax to Atletico Madrid)

Toby Alderweireld - now in Madrid but will it work out for the national team?

Toby Alderweireld – now in Madrid but will it work out for the national team? (copyright john Chapman)

Alderweireld has his supports and his detractors. He’s not in the class of Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen and he’s been forced to play at right back for Belgium, even though he was a centre back for Ajax. Alderweireld starts for Belgium because there is a lack of competition. Anderlecht’s Guillaume Gillet and Anthony Vanden Borre lack, respectively, the ability and the level of fitness to mount a challenge. Perhaps NEC’s Marnick Vermijl, on loan from Manchester United is the man to worry Alderweireld. Certainly if he does not break in to the Atletico Madrid side, and that’s not obvious, then Wilmots will be the man with concerns.

Result: The same conclusion as for Mertens.

Nacer Chadli (Twente to Tottenham Hotspur)

Chadli and Lukaku - one leaving London, one arriving. (Copyright John Chapman)

Chadli and Lukaku – one leaving London, one arriving. (Copyright John Chapman)

Somewhat surprisingly, Nacer Chadli has had more minutes for Belgium in the World Cup qualifiers than Fellaini. Under Georges Leekens, Chadli was seen as a winger and very much a squad player. Since Wilmots has been in charge, that has changed. The Spurs new boy is seen as a top candidate for one of the creative midfield roles and his move can only improve his chances.

Result: As for Lukaku.

One thought on “Belgian internationals on the move – good news or bad?

  1. Betcha

    Love the blog, for me the number one place to keep up to speed with whats happening in Belgium Football. That bottom picture is definately Lukaku and Miralles.

    Reply

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