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9 players you had no idea were playing in the Belgian Pro League

The Belgian Pro League feels like the perfect division for football hipsters to obsess over with it’s fan culture, mystery ballers and tactical prowess, yet it remains somewhat of an untapped resource.

A hidden gem sitting just outside of Europe’s top five, Belgium’s top flight often acts as a feeder club for young players looking to make the step up to the top level.

Players from around the world typically flock into Belgium first, being picked up on the cheap thanks to shrewd scouting, before moving on to bigger things.

But if you take a closer look at what is currently known as the Jupiler Pro League, you’ll realise that there are actually a number of forgotten ballers strutting their stuff in the home of Leffe and Liege waffles. Here are nine of them.

Kasper Dolberg

Bursting onto the scene with Ajax following his 2015 signing, Danish forward Dolberg earned himself a move to Nice in 2019 and won the club’s Player of the Season award in his first year, but stagnated after that.

Anderlecht secured his signature in the summer of 2023 and since joining the club, he’s managed 14 goals and assisted a further four in his first season. Here’s hoping the 26-year-old can turn a good start into a strong stint.

Thorgan Hazard

Brother of Eden, Thorgan Hazard spent the prime years of his career in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund, but returned to Belgium last summer – also with Anderlecht.

He’s made 24 appearances in all competitions as the club push in the championship round to try and win the league for the first time since 2017.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player from Belgium to score in the Premier League?

Steven Alzate

The Camden-born Colombia international is best known for breaking through at Brighton under Graham Potter, but lost his way following injury struggles and has been on loan at Standard Liege since 2022.

Alzate hasn’t been capped for Colombia since 2022 and his Brighton contract expires this summer. Expect the 25-year-old to try something new this summer when his loan comes to an end. On a free transfer, he might prove a smart signing for a newly-promoted Premier League side.

Gabriel Slonina

Another loanee, American goalkeeper Slonina is extremely highly rated, but with the pathway to the first-team at Chelsea looking cloudy, he’s getting the reps in at K.A.S Eupen.

Slonina has made 33 appearances this season, but Eupen unfortunately look set to be relegated to the second tier.

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Vincent Janssen

After an inevitable loan spell to the Turkish Super Lig with his Tottenham career fizzling out, Janssen’s next move was left-field, spending three years in Mexico with Monterrey from 2019 to 2022.

He’s now back in Europe and much closer to home, however, banging them in with impressive regularity for Antwerp. Despite them falling away in the championship round, he’s currently sat on 17 goals and six assists for the season in all competitions. Redemption arc.

Toby Alderweireld

Also at Antwerp, veteran Belgian defender Alderweireld joined the club in 2022 after a single season in Qatar with Al-Duhail.

Alderweireld’s impact in his first season was immense, helping the club secure a spot in the Champions League group stage for the first time ever and lifting the league, the Belgian Cup and the Super Cup.

Jan Vertonghen

Completing a trio of Spurs alumni is Alderweireld’s former partner in crime. Vertonghen returned to Belgium with Anderlecht in 2022 after winning the Primeira Liga with Benfica, before terminating his contract.

The 37-year-old was named Anderlecht’s captain ahead of the 2023-24 season and has been crucial to their campaign, racking up a pretty astonishing 36 appearances so far. Put your feet up, Jan.

Kasper Schmeichel

A move to Nice didn’t quite go to plan after Schmeichel left Leicester in 2022, with his contract being ripped up a year later. He penned a one-year deal with Anderlecht last summer, who have flooded their team with big names this season in a bid to finally get their hands on the league title once again.

The Danish stopper has been in inspired form in the championship rounds thus far, keeping three clean sheets in six games. Here’s hoping he can help them over the line.

READ: 7 forgotten ballers we can’t believe are now playing in Ligue 2

Shinji Okazaki

Schmeichel’s teammate in that unforgettable 2015-16 fairytale, Okazaki has spent the bulk of his post-Leicester career in Spain, swapping Jamie Vardy and his empty Red Bull cans for sunshine and paella.

That came to an end in 2022 when he joined Sint-Truiden. He’s only scored twice for the club and will retire at the end of the season, but the 38-year-old has been reliable as ever and a top professional. The game is about to say goodbye to a proper cult hero.