Belgium’s U19 squad plays friendly matches against Serbia and Estonia (twice) next week. The selection is composed of players born after 1/1/93. Some were in the squad last year and some have just come through. Last year’s squad had no players from Anderlecht but now four players are in the mix, including highly-rated Dennis Praet.
Other names to watch out for are Gent duo Hannes Van der Bruggen and Benito Raman, and Birmingham City’s Brice Ntambwe. I’ve selected a few players from the squad; several have played first team football:
- Dennis Praet is a 17 year-old attacking midfielder who Anderlecht took from the Genk academy a couple of years ago. He’s won prizes in various tournaments and has made five appearances as a substitute in the Anderlecht first team. He could be likened to Enzo Scifo in his style of play. Lucas Biglia said Praet was his obvious replacement at Anderlecht but Praet has pointed out that he has a more offensive style than the Argentine.
- Jordan Lukaku (17) is a left-sided defender/midfielder. There are often stories of Premier League clubs watching the Anderlecht player but at the moment he appears to be living on his brother’s name.
- Dino Arslanagic (18) is a central defender who Standard Liege signed from Lille. Originally from the Mouscron school of excellence, Arslanagic captained the U19 side last year. He’s not made it on to the pitch for Standard’s first team this season, which is somewhat of a surprise.
- Thorgan Hazard (18), brother of the more famous Eden, plays in central midfield and is on the fringes of the Lens first team; he started a cup game this season but has not made the breakthrough that, obviously, some people expected. He was in last season’s U19 squad.
- Mats Rits is 18 but seems to have been around forever. He made his debut for Beerschot aged 16 but his career stalled last season. In the summer he joined Ajax but has yet to appear in the Eredivisie.
- Hannes Van der Bruggen is 18 and is a real find for Gent. He’s broken into the first team this season and it could be that he’s there to stay. He looks like a player who can cover all positions in midfield and is the first Belgian to come through the Gent youth ranks for years.
- Benito Raman is 17 and has also played for the Gent first team – just once. Good things are spoken about this teenage winger.
- Anthony Limbombe (17) has been seen as the successor to Kevin De Bruyne at Genk but it’s hard to forecast anything at that club. Made debut for Genk aged 16.
- Brice Ntambwe (18) joined Birmingham City from FC Brussels a couple of seasons ago and came on in the recent cup tie with Chelsea. He’s a defensive midfield player, has captained the Belgian U17 side.
- Massimo Bruno (18), midfield player who Anderlecht took from Charleroi. Bruno started one game for the Charleroi first team.
- Jonathan Vervoort (18) is a centre back with Anderlecht.