Posted in Transfers

Brief Transfer Roundup Part V

Later than first advertised, although it’s getting later by the week. This is the 5th edition of a transfer roundup and I guess the wait for me to post this is due to the inactivity of clubs. Of course deals are being broke regularly, but comings and goings are beginning to slow down from what I’ve seen now that friendlies are taking place and managers are seeing how their squads are shaping up.

My last post on here regarded Sint Truiden and Tintin Marquez coming in. However, bad news broke almost at the same time regarding Stef Peeters who has moved to Caen. Shame for both JPL fans and especially those at the Staaien too. With Gerkens also gone, a rebuild is on the agenda. Good news though is that Babacar Gueye and Igor Vetokele have come in on loan, with the latter hopefully picking up from where he left off last season. To wrap up STVV, Charis Charisis, Stelios Kitsiou and Jordan Botaka have also all come in!

Other deals at Anderlecht and Zulte Waregem were also completed, with both still busy as ever in the market. Starting with the champions, Les Mauves lost Stephane Badji on loan to Kayserispor, Sebastian De Maio going back to Italy and Andy Kawaya moving to Mechelen. Matz Sels has come back to Belgium to Anderlecht on loan from Newcastle. 

Regarding Zulte, that had some loan and permanent deals including Anderlecht, with Aaron Leya Iseka and Michael Heylen moving to Waregem. Julien De Sart also come in from Middlesbrough too.

Still plenty of deals happened whether they’re temporary or permanent throughout the league with Manuel Benson stepping up from Lierse to Genk and Jordi Vanlerberghe moving to Club Brugge. I feel like listing more deals but at the threat of already boring you I won’t continue, but next season already looks like it could be huge!

I’ll leave with the prospect of Henry Onyekurus proposed move to Everton with it being reasonably big over here! Good luck to the young gentleman.

Posted in Manager Profile

Manager Profile: Tintin Marquez

It’s finally happened. Sint Truiden have employed a replacement to Ivan Leko! The Spaniard, who is a familiar face in Belgium (mainly to Eupen fans) has signed for De Kanaries for the upcoming season.

Obviously the ins and outs were finalised but why has it taken so long? Known mainly in Spain, he has a job on his hands at the Staaien if I’m honest. With Pieter Gerkens leaving he has a void to fill, along with other areas within the squad! 

From being on such a high after an heroic play off tussle, the club seem deflated. Even their social media expert on Twitter seemed to have given up until 3 hours ago! A big job where consolidation maybe the order of the day in the Pro League? Maybe I’m being too pessimistic but right now, not a lot seems to be going on at the club and standing still in football can be as good as going backwards.

For STVV’s case, I hope I’m wrong, but until late July, we won’t find out….definitely good luck to Tintin Marquez and his backroom staff! 

Posted in Transfers

Brief JPL Transfer Roundup Part IV

It has been just over a week since my last summary of the wheeling and dealing in Belgium, and it’s safe to say it’s picked up rather than slowed down! I’ve counted 21 transfers and loan deals involving Pro League clubs, only to wake up to another one this morning, which I will come to in a moment. A couple of deals are pretty big too, mainly because of the clubs involved.

What I mean by that is the announcement of 2 huge deals yesterday. Firstly, Pieter Gerkens left Sint Truiden to move to Anderlecht in a €4 million deal, mainly because the player has stepped up and I felt a move was definitely on the cards going by the season he had. And then Nany Dimata has sadly left Belgium altogether​ and went east to Wolfsburg in Germany! Massive deal worth around €10 million! Oostende can do sommuch with that money going into next season, but as long as they keep Knowledge Musona, I think they’ll still compete at the top end.

Other deals involving big clubs, mainly outside the country, include Keres Masungo moving from Mechelen to Roma, Sebastien Pocognoli moving to Standard Liege from West Brom, Richairo Zivkovic coming to Oostende from Ajax and a deal I didn’t write about amongst the Zulte Waregem deals completed so far on Saturday, Soualiho Meïté joining Youri Tielemans at Monaco. So plenty happening in Belgium regarding ins and outs and big clubs across Europe too.

I’m going to talk about Club Brugge though for a moment. Ivan Leko is still trying to put his squad together this pre season and this week the door has been opening and closing. In came Guillaume Hubert from Standard Liege, maybe to challenge Ethan Horvath for the No. 1 spot at the club? And also, announced this morning was the signing of Marvelous Nakamba from Vitesse Arnhem to replace legend Timmy Simons! The Zimbabwean signed a four year deal at the Jan Breydel Stadion and will prove to be a good athlete, along with hoping to add real quality. Out of the club went Nikola Storm in another loan deal and Sebastien Bruzzese permanently moving to Kortrijk. The 28 year old has been at some very big clubs in Belgium but has been made surplus to requirements at Brugge, hopefully finding a real home in Kortrijk!

Without literally discussing every signing, there has been money spent and papers signed, with more to come that’s for sure!

Posted in Transfers

Ware are the Gems at Zulte

Another quality title to add to my tally…hmmm, anyway, I wrote a piece for a website about Lokeren and immediately thought, I should’ve saved it for my blog. So that’s why my Belgian football topics will remain here, and Zulte Waregem definitely deserve some of my time as they have been relatively busy leading up to the transfer window opening, maybe making a real go at next season domestically and now they’re in the Europa League?

With the loss of Henrik Dalsgaard to Brentford and the strong rumours which I no longer think are rumours of Mbaye Leye running his contract down, re-enforcements are very much needed, but I believe they’ve wheeled and sealed very well so far. I know I posted on Monday about shrewd signings of Ben Reichert and Nill De Pauw will add a hint of savviness to the squad, plying their trade in different leagues which are different to the Pro League in good ways, and will add quality too. The early acquisition Sandy Walsh was a good piece of business in my opinion too.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Adding someone with the know how of the league is invaluable, as well as having continental experience going so far with Genk last season in Europe is a huge bonus. Adding that Pro League experience as well is Gertjan De Mets, maybe with the club thinking if Kortrijk can raise their squad, we’ll take one in return!?! But either way, I think so far there has been good business dealt in the post/pre season, as it seems to have overlapped in Belgium.

It was a shame to see Lukas Lerager go because if he is good enough for Ligue 1 and Bordeaux, he is good enough for Zulte Waregem, which sounds disrespectful maybe to De Pauw, who has made a reversal, but it isn’t really because I think the Pro League has stepped up to the level of some Ligue 1 clubs, including Bordeaux and Guingamp. But with these comings and goings, some players have left the club which may mean more deals or a freshening up of a squad which looked stale come the end of the season, where they downed tools and looked forward to their holidays by the looks of it.

Courtesy of Getty Images

I just hope we see a competitive Zulte this season and maybe run the top 2 closer this season, if the cup doesn’t get in the way again. End of the day, silverware is always important, especially to the fans!

Posted in Uncategorized

Fixtures have been Announced!

Today saw the announcement of the fixture list in Belgium’s Pro League and the first round of fixtures has thrown up quite the dual.

The first date of destiny for newly promoted Antwerp sees them host champions Anderlecht! The 2 champions of Belgium face off in a huge match in about 6 weeks. Because every match is tighter than you think, one way or another, the rest of the matches will look different on paper than on the pitch! 

Saturday 29th July sees Lokeren host Club Brugge in Ivan Leko’s first league match at the helm of the Blauw-Zwart. And on that night, Genk, who were magnificent in the play offs, play Beveren who may look to target survival before anything else. Eupen may do likewise with a tough opener against cup holders Zulte Waregem at home. The final match on Saturday sees Charleroi welcome Kortrijk. KVK may look to gain some sort of consistency, and already dipping their toe into the transfer market, hopefully their fresh faces will create stability along with quality.

On the Sunday, Mechelen, who I thought performed so well overall last term, will hope to do even better in the final stretch next term, face a side who also have just appointed a new manager, Standard Liege. Managerless Sint Truiden face a tough task in Gent on the first day before the final match sees Europa League bound Oostende host Mouscron to the Versluys Arena. 

Stand out fixtures, on paper, for me include Antwerp-Anderlecht, Mechelen-Standard and STVV-Gent for all types of reasons. But now the clubs know who’ll they’ll have as of now, all focus will be for that last weekend in July! 

Posted in Transfers

Brief JPL Transfer Roundup Part III

I didn’t think I’d have any consistency with a transfer roundup in Belgium. I originally began writing a blog regarding this because it was a stop gap. But, in a week where I was scratching around waiting for this blog post in a ‘slow’ week, even though there have been transfers, fireworks were let off in the dugouts of 2 of the biggest clubs in the country.

Firstly, Ivan Leko made himself back at home in Brugge, and then yesterday it was announced Ricardo Sa Pinto would also make himself back at home, but in Liege. With these 2 hirings, and with Sint Truiden on the search for a new boss, this must mean more names are on the way into the JPL? 

This week there were 12 transfers involving Pro League sides, with Zulte Waregem being the busiest with a ‘one in one out’ system by the looks of it. Then again, it may just be a come and buy me plea to Kortrijk who have taken Bryan Verboom and Christophe Lepoint, both moving to the Guldensporenstadion. Verboom will surely replace Joáozinho who has gone back home to Portugal with Tondela. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

But back to Zulte Waregem, with those 2 leaving, Ben Reichert and Nill De Pauw have been brought in. With Europa League football next season, maybe buying from Hapoel Tel Aviv and Guingamp respectively, players will be more battled hardened, as well as signing from different, yet, competitive leagues could bring other options to the side.

Other deals that were notable to me involved Fabien Antunes moving from Oostende to Sint Truiden, the last deal before Leko departed. And Ryota Morioka. A Japanese midfielder that Waasland Beveren signed from Śląsk Wrocław in Poland (I added the accents and letters for effect). He performed reasonably well averaging just under a goal every 3 matches in the season and a half he was over there, which I think is pretty decent, and may hopefully hit the ground running like the fantastic Yuya Kubo. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

Lastly, one deal which slipped under the radar was the Orel Mangala switch from Anderlecht to Stuttgart. He was on loan at Borussia Dortmund but has now moved permanently to Stuttgart. I bring this deal up because he must have quality, by why not in Rene Weiler’s plans? Anyway, more next week I’m sure (hopefully).

Posted in Manager Profile

Manager Profile: Ricardo Sa Pinto

So…this week 2 of the biggest clubs in Belgium have settled on who will lead them into next season, and this time around, Standard Liege have appointed Portuguese Ricardo Sa Pinto. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

A familiar face to Les Rouches fans as he ended his career at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne 10 years ago, he’ll most likely be a popular acquisition with his connection to the club. Coming from Atromitos in Greece, Sa Pinto may feel he is taking a big step up in terms of stature of club and league. 

He has bounced around in management, coaching in 4 countries already! So experience is on his side as well as different styles of play, and maybe potential untapped players he has on his radar? But I’m guessing his main task will be maintaining who he already has in Belfodil and Scholz and keeping them onside for at least another season. 

I just think with a good pre season and no European football, Standard could progress if he gets his ideas across, if they’re good of course, and mount a challenge for at least a Europa League place next season. However, Belgium is weird in its own way because you can finish 15th and get a Europa League place, but I feel his targets will be slightly higher than a relegation battle, and the way Liege finished off the play offs, hopefully for them the momentum will carry through into next season. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

Lastly, I think José Jeunechamp deserves credit with how he made the team play in the end and restored some pride back into the jersey.

Posted in Uncategorized

Are The Japanese Coming to Sint Truiden?

After the recent ups and downs at the Staaien this week, where Ivan Leko parted company with De Kanaries to join Club Brugge, the club are doing more business in the board room right now than business in the dugout. If the boardroom look at potential new managers they may hope for someone who kept them up and had them dreaming in the play offs, like Leko. Then again they may go to the Asia, where origami swans and sushi is being served at the club now (unlikely) and try and get their manager from Japan!

Courtesy of Getty Images

Ok, I may be going slightly over the top, but the club announced their link with Japanese enterprise The online company deal with all types of stuff, from on demand videos, to e-books and online shopping. To list everything would be boring as there are 12 services that they do cover, but if I can look them up, so can you! The DMM (Digital Media Mart) are pretty impressive and have been steadily growing in Japan in finance and popularity.

What does this mean for Sint Truiden? Probably more exposure in Japan? Players wearing geisha outfits in secret unaired adverts only in Japan? But if they’re shown in Tokyo and beyond then financially for the club, this could be massive in terms of benefits abroad. It’s a smart move really. If the club also manage to pluck some of the best talent too. If the next Yuya Kubo wound up on their doorstep, I’m sure the fans won’t be too unhappy! 

Courtesy of Getty Images

The other day I said I would’ve possibly written my shortest post. I’ve beaten that by some way with this one, but I just believe if the club choose their manager wisely and exposure from this shareholder soon becomes pretty successful, it may lead to other and different companies getting involved in the club as a whole!

Posted in Manager Profile

Ivan Leko in at Club Brugge

Well…after Michel Preud’homme’s resignation at the end of the play offs, the hunt was immediately on at Club Brugge for a predecessor to the man who was reasonably successful in his spell at the Jan Breydel Stadion. I spouted at one point there were big rumours of Frank de Boer coming into the hot seat and I was only thinking about that very recently, thinking how exciting it would be and probably would bring a whole lot of popularity to the league with a huge name like him.

But with a month to think about the offer, if there ever was one, either two things happened. Either Brugge got edgy and would rather somebody taking over the team sooner rather than later, or, the more likely, de Boer turned them down. Obviously I’m speculating but my question is ‘Why Leko?’

Last night the news broke of Ivan Leko: Club Brugge manager!

Courtesy of Getty Images

He is more than well known in Belgium now, moving to the country in 2005 to Blauw-Zwart and winning his only real trophy at the club in the Beker van Belgie in 2006-07. Moving onto Beerschot and then finally Lokeren, where he won a second Belgian Cup, he went straight into Leuven as manager.
After a brief spell at PAOK in Greece as an assistant, he came back to his second home in Belgium, but this time at Sint Truiden. And this is where I go ‘huh?’ because no matter how well he did in the play offs, and let’s face it, De Kanaries were very, very good. But in his 30 regular season matches, his side were less than average. Winning less than a third of their matches and losing over half, how is that criteria good enough to be hired on? 

Players may be better at Brugge, granted, but he knows Belgium. He knows the league and was just not that good. Unless his play off performance was sufficient enough to offer him the job at the runners up of Belgium, with a crack at Champions League qualification, I’m unsure. I hope he performs as well as he did in the play offs for the club and leagues sake, but maybe my pessimist view could be echoed and felt by the fans too? 

Courtesy of Getty Images

I feel most sorry for Sint Truiden where, even though I’ve said he wasn’t amazing, he looked as if he may have been building something there which made him deserved of his two year extension there rather than his new two year deal in Brugge. 

Posted in Uncategorized

What to do in Belgium?

This could possibly be my shortest blog post thus far. I’m not struggling with what to write and I have a few ideas, but until it’s worth putting them down on here in just thinking ‘What to do?’.

With Belgian football, unless you’re over there, fluent in Dutch or French or really have the inside track on the ins and outs of certain clubs, it’s tough to get ahead. Doing this from England is firstly a hobby, but I feel if people read this, and read it regularly, I have a duty to post my thoughts and opinions. I’ve had brief but very good conversations with fans and I feel if they want my opinion, I have to give it which I enjoy doing. 

I guess the good thing is that I am 100% unbiased. I may like players and certain things about certain clubs, but I don’t particularly support a team in Belgium. So when I give my opinion, that’s all I do and nothing more. No club dictates why a player may want to leave or join or how certain things dictate why managers and players made those actions. I may not always be right, but that’s the fun of making a prediction, especially if you are correct once and a while. 

But back to the matter at hand. The JPL post certain news where, no offence, I don’t think is worthy of writing about from my point of view. Maybe that means they’re struggling for ideas in post season, leading to pre season. But with not long til the beginning of the season, and the fact this is primarily about league football and not international football, I need to maybe dig deeper and find more to discuss. Another blog I have ready to type up is about social media, where certain clubs don’t write enough for their fans in general. 

Social media, especially Twitter, can be amazing for publicity. Not just for minor blogs like mine, but for example, a local club to me in England, Billericay Town, have been unbelievably popular, whether it’s good or bad on social media because of the R Kelly song they sang. I found it embarrassing, but it was seen by thousands, including R Kelly! Now you don’t have to embarrass yourself to be popular, but they were the talk of a lot of outlets e.g television, radio, internet etc. Make use of what you have football clubs and preach a bit more. The league clearly has quality in certain places so show it off and be proud.

Like I said, I have certain things to think about writing, but I’ll give clubs a chance next season before I may post it to every club, not just one massive tweet! But anyway, I’ll have my transfer roundup on Monday again as there is always movement, including so far this week, but as it’s been broken, I’ll give my opinion soon.

Until next time I guess…or just see ya Monday!