Success breeds success, and right now it is breeding it in Belgium.
Rarely can a country of around 11 million people have enjoyed such a rich crop of footballing talent, with plenty of that talent being seen in the Premier League.
Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku, Mousa Dembele, Thomas Vermaelen and Simon Mignolet have all excelled in England over recent years, with their transfer value rocketing with each impressive display.
Their success will have led to plenty of Premier League bosses looking at other special Belgians, and there is no shortage of options out there.
One of the most intriguing is the defender Toby Alderweireld, the three-time Dutch Eredivisie champion with Ajax who has already amassed 24 international caps at the age of just 24 years old.
Consistently linked with a move to Liverpool all summer, the defender has also attracted the interest of the ambitious Norwich City, although his agent told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (via Sky Sports) turned down the Canaries as they couldn't agree personal terms, though the Reds could be able to improve on the offer made by Chris Hughton's side.
With Brendan Rodgers still tipped to bring in another defender this summer given the question marks over the futures of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates and the retirement of Jamie Carragher, Alderweireld could well be a welcome addition.
Tall, good on the ball and not frightened of the physical game, the right-footed Alderweireld would appear to be a fine partner for the Dane, Daniel Agger, who is by now a part of the Anfield furniture given his seven-and-a-half years spent on Merseyside.
A good relationship with Liverpool’s new goalkeeper Mignolet―who many people expect to be first choice ahead of Pepe Reina―would also be assured given their shared nationality too, and the defender appears well suited to life in the Premier League.
The success of Alderweireld’s countrymen Kompany, Vertonghen and Vermaelen in England―the very men who sometimes limit his international appearances and force him to frequently play at right back―doesn’t automatically suggest that the Ajax man would follow their path of course, but with Agger alongside him and Toure to learn from he could hardly wish for better company in which to try to adapt to a new life.
The struggles experienced by Skrtel last season could largely be attributed to his indecision and frequent clumsiness on the ball.
With Rodgers a firm advocate of seeing his teams build from the back, Alderweireld’s ability to look comfortable in possession as well as spray long passes certainly wouldn’t look out of place.
He’s an occasional goal threat too, and has scored at least three times in all of his four full seasons in the Ajax first team―where he used to play with Luis Suarez.
Much like his Amsterdam teammate Christian Eriksen―another who has been strongly linked with Liverpool this close season, with The Mirror reporting Rodgers is looking to add both he and Alderweireld along with Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand―the defender’s decision to not sign a new contract suggests that a new start is on the horizon.
Both Alderweireld and Eriksen have just one year left on their Ajax deals and have shown no intention of signing new ones, and Liverpool can take advantage of that.
In the case of the defender, his potential arrival would ensure that the Reds look to be an even more convincing force at the back than they were in Rodgers’ first season.
Should Alderweireld join Mignolet at the club, Liverpool’s number of Belgians would increase 100 percent too, and given the country’s vast pool of talent that can surely only be a good thing.
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