With the transfer window firmly shut across Europe, business in Belgium was booming as top talents secured moves to bigger clubs in Europe. In fact, ahead of the qualifier with Azerbaijan, we could see all of the first eleven playing their club football outside Belgium. We assess the big club’s dealings and rate their activity over the last few months.
The obvious place to start here is with Romelu Lukaku. Chelsea’s concrete interest for the last 12 months finally saw Belgium’s hottest prospect make the move to the Premier League for an estimated £13m, rising to £18m. Anderlecht were hoping for around €20m so they can be happy with the final price.
The board acted swiftly to bring in a replacement – Milan Jovanovic. After a year of comparative turmoil at Liverpool, Jovanovic joined on a free, mainly as Liverpool were sick of him draining the wage bill. A proven scorer in Belgium, it seems like the perfect move and he’s already done more at Anderlecht than on Merseyside.
Other important deals include Ronald Vargas from Club Brugge, (who is still on the sidelines), young defender Denis Odoi from Sint Truiden and the Swedish duo of Behrang Safari and Guillermo Molins. Unfortunately, the latter tore knee ligaments in pre-season. The Brussels giant also finally said goodbye to Jonathan Legear, as he was one of many to make the move to Russia. He joined Terek Grozny for €5m – a decent price considering his injury record.
Overall, Anderlecht already knew their talisman was going but they’ve strengthened reasonably well
NET SPEND +£16m
VERDICT – 8/10
In complete contrast their neighbours have had a splurge this summer. Adrie Koster has signed no less than eleven players in the summer so it’s difficult to know where to start. Bringing Bjorn Vleminckx back home was a no brainer really after grabbing 23 goals for N.E.C last year. €3.3m appears to be a good buy. Lionel Messi’s La Masia strike partner Victor Vazquez is a slight risk, given how his career has stagnated but he should find the Jupiler Pro League a fun playground. Lior Refaelov had a slightly selfish reputation in Israel but he’s looked pretty good too. The slight blemish was being unable to seal the signing of Meme Tchite from Standard, opting for Matej Vryda from Udinese on loan.
Koster’s raided Scandinavia too signing Tom Hogli, Frederick Stenman, Michael Almeback and Niki Zimling, hoping the Nordic grit will shore up his defence. This was all necessary given that Club’s two best players last year Ronald Vargas and Ivan Perisic had left. Several former untouchable players were deemed surplus to requirement as Club Brugge aim for the title this season. Some tremendous gambles but some steals too.
NET SPEND +£220,000
VERDICT – 9/10
A tumultuous summer for the champions. With Thibaut Courtois forcing his way out of the club, Genk had Champions League qualification to focus on and strengthened with the signings of Khaleem Hyland from Zulte Waregem and Christian Benteke from Standard. The biggest outlay was on Courtois’ replacement, signing Polish keeper Grzegorz Sandomierski for £1.4m. Transfers really have been the last thing on Genk’s mind with losing their manager.
Most of the deals were done late in the day, bringing in Sporting’s left-back Leandro Grimi and Mohamed Sarr. Fans were slightly disappointed missing out on Christian Bruls, but the key thing is that Genk didn’t lose more of the players that led them to the title. Courtois aside, which is a big loss but decent money.
NET SPEND +£5.2m
VERDICT – 5/10
Trond Sollied was quick to imprint his philosophy in his third spell as Gent boss. The deadline swoop of Westerlo’s Christian Bruls was inspired, adding more creativity to the frontline. This move was aided by Gent sending Stijn De Smet, Shlomi Arbeitman and Stef Wils the other way. But Sollied also recognised the need for defensive stability signing Valery Nahayo from Kaizer Chiefs. The problem has been his temperament gaining two red cards in his early Gent career.
To further strengthen at the back, Melli has been brought in from Tenerife and Brazilian Rafinha could have license to get forward.
Keeping Yassine El Ghanassy at the club was the main goal which was achieved, so Sollied has done well in his first window.
NET SPEND -£1.1m
VERDICT – 7/10
There wasn’t a day in the summer where Les Rouches weren’t involved in some sort of transfer activity. De Duiventil were up to their old tricks. Several key players moved on – Steven Defour, Axel Witsel, Eliaquim Mangala and Mehdi Carcela being the most missed. MIdfield dynamo Axel Witsel moved for just under £8m to Benfica and settled straight into their set-up, whilst Defour and Mangala opted to join rivals Porto for a combined £11m.
The spine of the team was shattered and new boss Jose Riga did his best to amend the gaping hole those players left. Of the new breed, Yoni Buyens is expected fill in the anchor role in midfield, whilst the deadline days signings of Venezuelan Luis Manuel Sejas and William Vainqueur are exciting prospects. But no one new really stood out for Standard and it is a worrying time to be a Standard fan. This was expected to be a season of transition but everything’s moving too fast for many fans’ liking. The new owner however has cashed on his prize assets and is already in profit since taking over the club. The cycle begins again – produce more young stars and reel in the transfer funds.
NET SPEND – +£21.2m
VERDICT – 4/10
BALANCE SHEET FOR JUPILER PRO LEAGUE 11/12
Total Revenue – £69,194,400
Total Expenditure – £24,816,00
Total Profit – £44, 378,400
Biggest spenders – Standard Liège (£4m)
Biggest revenue received – Standard Liège (£25m)
Clubs that spent nothing (including undisclosed) – Cercle Brugge, Sint Truiden, KV Mechelen, Beerschot, Lierse, Westerlo, Lokeren
Clubs that received nothing (including undisclosed) – Cercle Brugge, Lierse, Mons, OH Leuven, Zulte Waregem, Westerlo
For more in-depth details of each club, check out Transfermarkt
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Tagged Anderlecht, Axel Witsel, Behrang Safari, Christian Benteke, Christian Bruls, Club Brugge, Denis Odoi, Eliaquim Mangala, Frederick Stneman, Genk, Gent, Grzegorz Sandomierski, Guillermo Molins, Ivan Perisic, Jonathan Legear, Jose Riga, Khaleem Hyland, Leandro Grimi, Lior Refaelov, Luis Manuel Sejas, Mehdi Carcela, Melli, Meme Tchite, Milan Jovanovic, Mohamed Sarr, Niki Zimling, Rafinha, Romelu Lukaku, Ronald Vargas, Standard Liège, steven defour, Stijn De Smet, Thibaut Courtois, Tom Hogli, Trond Sollied, Valery Nahayo, Victor Vazquez, William Vainqueuer, yassine el ghanassy