Jupiler Pro League News round-up – 23 March

Today sees the second in my new daily series of news round-ups from the Belgian league.

Jupiler Pro League – Milan Jovanovic revealed as the league’s top earner

La Dernière Heure have published a list of the top paid players in Belgium in their new weekly magazine “DH Les Sports”. This follows on from a similar exercise conducted by France Football.

Unsurprisingly, Anderlecht dominate the top of the standings with Serbian international Jovanovic pocketing €2m a year following his move from Liverpool. He is followed by fellow new recruit Dieumerci Mbokani (€1.6m) and Argentine international Lucas Biglia who should considerably improve upon his €1.2m salary when he moves on in the summer. Close behind are striking duo Björn Vleminckx of Club Brugge and Tom De Sutter, also of Anderlecht on €1.1m and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe who is on €1m a year.

Standard Liège’s top earner is their magnificent captain Jelle van Damme (€600,000) while mercurial winger Yassine El Ghanassy tops the list for the ever-developing KAA Gent (€500,000). Somewhat surprisingly, Racing Genk and future Chelsea man Kevin De Bruyne does not feature among the top earners.

Many thanks to respected Belgian football expert John Chapman for the figures and he can be followed @BelgoFoot on Twitter.

Anderlecht – Dennis Praet signs a new contract

The table toppers have moved to sign precocious 17 year-old midfielder Dennis Praet on a new three-year deal. Praet, who arrived in the capital from Racing Genk’s youth system, is seen as the most talented player coming through the ranks although there is the danger that expectations will simply be too high for the playmaker.

Anderlecht’s sporting director Herman van Holsbeeck told journalists, “I’m very proud we have been able to sign one of our biggest talents for a long period. This is proof of our new policy where we have faith in young players. Dennis should become one of Anderlecht’s key men in the future.”

Standard Liège – chairman Roland Duchâtelet says Sinan Bolat set to depart in the summer

During a feature-length interview with both La Dernière Heure and Sudpresse, Standard Liège owner and chairman Roland Duchâtelet has revealed that Turkish goalkeeper Sinan Bolat will draw the curtain on an eventful and largely successful three year spell at Sclessin.

Duchâtelet said, “We know Bolat wants to leaveStandard.  We are putting our trust in youngsters so it’s a good chance for Anthony Moris to take his place.”

Moris has come through the system in Liège and yesterday put pen to paper on a new contract, tieing him to the club until 2017. With Henkinet also at the club, a third, more experienced goalkeeper will be recruited in the summer. One possible candidate would be to bring back free agent Vedran Runje for a third spell with les Rouches.

Club Brugge – first team beat the reserves 5-1 in friendly

Taking advantage of a free weekend with only Lokeren and Kortrijk in action in tomorrow’s cup final, Christoph Daum pitted his first team against a nominal second string, which itself contained several senior players. Club Brugge lined up as follows:

Kujovic – Hoefkens, Almebäck, van Gijseghem, De Jonghe – van Acker – Vazquez, Vadis – Bakenga, Bacca, Zinho Gano

and ran out comfortable 5-1 winners through goals from Gano, Bakenga (2), Vadis and Bacca. Sander Coopman notched a consolation strike for the reserves while Colin Coosemans saved a penalty in the second half after the goalkeepers switched sides. The other players who took part in the 1-0 defeat of Lierse watched on from the sidelines.

Zulte Waregem – Frédéric Gounongbe to sign from third tier Zaventem

Boosted by the return of their most successful coach Francky Dury, the merger club have moved swiftly to snap up striker Frédéric Gounongbe from third division outfit KVW Zaventem. The 23 year-old has signed a two-year contract, with an option for a third and chose Essevee above other Pro League teams.

Chief scout Toon Martens told the club’s official website, “Several clubs had interest in Frédéric. We had been following him for three years. He is a strong, left-footed striker with an eye for goal. He has already scored 16 goals this season. He is 1m90 (6ft4) tall but he is quick for his size and has been played out wide in addition to upfront.”

Play-offs – Racing Genk’s home game against KAA Gent moved forward

Due to wires being crossed with the local authorities in Genk, the Play-Off 1 match between the champions Racing Genk and KAA Gent will take place one day earlier than planned, on 7 April kicking off at 18:00 local time.

EXQI League – Charleroi will not be penalised for fielding too few Belgian players

After an investigation, the Executive Committee of the Belgian FA (KBVB) have decided not to penalise Charleroi among others for an alleged breach of the regulations surrounding the number of “homegrown” players to be fielded during every game. The rule stipulates that at least six players who have spent three years in Belgium before the age of 23 must start. However, the KBVB acknowledged that an administrative error on their part meant that no clubs could be sanctioned. Following the verdict, Charleroi coach Dennis van Wijk hit out at Eupen, accusing the German-speaking club of trying to destabilise their promotion rivals.

Womens’ football – UEFA give go-ahead for a “Beneliga”

The Dutch football association, the KNVB, have announced that UEFA will not stand in their way as they look to combine with their Belgian counterparts to create a combined Belgian-Dutch league in womens’ football. The two national associations had already decided to take the bold step back in December with a view to improving the level of domestic competition. Taking effect from next season, the first half of the season will still be purely domestic before the top four in each country play against each other during the second half.

While any such moves in the mens’ game are a long way off, it nevertheless sets an interesting precedent. Indeed, I am personally in favour of a BeNeliga alongside the existing national competitions but that’s for another time.

Tomorrow there will be a preview of the Belgian cup final between Lokeren and KV Kortrijk so stay tuned for more news.


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