Veteran Belgian players return to football clubs in home country
Players of Belgium's golden football generation have made their mark by playing for some of the world's best clubs abroad, often from a very young age. However, this most recent transfer period has seen many Red Devils return to their country of birth.
Veteran internationals such as Toby Alderweireld (Royal Antwerp), Jan Vertonghen (RSC Anderlecht), Dedrick Boyata (Club Brugge) and Nacer Chadli (Westerlo) have returned to the Belgian competition this summer. A remarkable evolution, given that these players moved abroad at a very early age.
For many Belgian players, the World Cup in Qatar will be one of the last opportunities to shine with their national team. But a spot in the starting eleven requires playing time. The returning internationals were sidelined at their clubs and hope to improve their chances by signing for a Belgian team.
The players, all of them in their 30s, also see it as a final chance to play for the home crowd. Their careers as players are nearing their end: Vertonghen has already said he will most likely retire after his two year contract runs out.
The fact that players of this calibre agreed to join a Belgian club, is a worrying sign for the future of the national team. They are still expected to be selected by Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, which shows that a new golden generation is not ready to take over.
© BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR