The country, which has produced propitious talents over the years, is again ready to unveil two rising stars at the start of this season. After the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Vincent Kompany and more, Belgian golden era of football is set to propose two new names who holds a lot of promises to be regular ones in the national side in near future. Another Hazard – now Eden’s brother Thorgan and a strong creative midfielder in form of Radja Nainggolan are expected to enjoy more first team experiences with bigger responsibilities at both club and international level.
Thorgan Hazard, who also likes to play as a winger like his elder bro, plays for Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach on loan from Chelsea. The 21 year old youngster, who wears number 26 at Monchengladbach, has already scored a brace in his club’s Europa League playoff clash against FK Sarajevo. He recently came into limelight following his 35 yard scorcher of a free kick in the aforesaid clash. But that would look no surprise if we just take a look over what he has already achieved in his short span of football career.
A shining spell at French side Lens was not gone unnoticed as Chelsea signed him for a long term deal. To give him a reasonable amount of first team experiences, he was loaned to Belgium Pro Ligue side S.V. Zulte Waregem. That was the start of a fairy-tale as on his very first season, he helped his side to club record 2nd place finish in Belgian Pro League. He improved further and in his consecutive second season at the Belgian club, he managed to score 7 goals and provided 20 assists out of his 53 appearances.
Then the awards were bound to come on to a flush as he grabbed the Belgian Golden Shoe in January 2014 for being the Best Footballer in Belgian Pro League, followed by the recognition of best Belgian Professional footballer in May 2014.
Apart from club brilliance, he was also a regular name in the Belgium youth International team sheet. It was a matter of time for him to get the senior team call up, which eventually happened on 16th May 2013 as Wilmots included him in the squad for friendlies against USA and Serbia. After serving in the backup list for World Cup squad, he got himself a place in the final squad for recent friendlies of Belgium.
He has a lot of years ahead of him to excel in the big stage. Having Bundesliga and Europa League experiences with a big club like Borussia Monchenglabdach will help him a lot in his career to showcase his talents and boost his senior team appearances at one go.
Now we shift our focus on to a player who is a bit older than the one talked earlier. Radja Nainggolan, aged 26, has remained one of the most under-rated players in Belgian golden generation of footballers. He prefers to play in central midfield position , often coming forward to assist the final third.
He was mostly overshadowed by the likes of Witsel, Fellaini and De Bruyne, which gave him a little opportunity to fare for his national side. Now after a mediocre performance at the world cup, Wilmots brought some new faces to the side and Nainggolan now is expected to bear more national duties on his shoulder.
Besides international stints, he can surely see his price tag bearing a hefty number in the next transfer window as he has now the big platform in Roma jersey to give stand-out performances in Serie A and Champions League. Along side the likes of De Rossi and Pjanic, he has played his part with elegance in the first match of Roma in Serie A. A goal and an assist in his name bears the indication that this might be the breakthrough season of the Belgian midfielder.
A player of his calibre and strength has the potential to thrive in any European League and who knows at the end of the season he might end up being a high profile summer target in the Premier League.
Recently, Nainggolan featured in the ‘Match for Peace in Gaza’ in Rome organised by Pope Francis and had the opportunity to play with legends like Maradona, Zantti , Baggio and more.