New Belgian Red Devils manager opts for youth over veterans
17 March 2023
Domenico Tedesco, the new coach of the Belgian Red Devils, announced his first selection on Friday. The Italian-German manager opted for a small core of 24 players for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualification match against Sweden (24 March) and the friendly against Germany (28 March).
Many veterans of the golden generation will not travel to Sweden next week. Tedesco did not select veterans Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens, Hans Vanaken and Leander Dendoncker. Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld and Simon Mignolet already announced their retirement from the national team. Youri Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard and Michy Batshuayi are out with injuries.
Instead, Tedesco chose several players who were not in the core for the World Cup in Qatar last year. Sebastiaan Bornauw, Thomas Kaminski, Dodi Lukebakio, Orel Mangala, Dennis Praet, Alexis Saelemaekers and Matz Sels. Jérémy Doku is also part of the core, despite an injury.
Roméo Lavia is the only debutant in the squad. The 19-year-old Belgian moved from Manchester City's youth team to Southampton last summer and is considered one of the most promising players in the Premier League. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing him.
Despite the young average age of the squad, Tedesco did not look at age when assembling his squad. "We did not select by age. It was definitely not a priority to rejuvenate. We looked purely at performance. These players are good, so why not give them the opportunities?"
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