Scouting For Bhoys | Celtic Transfer Targets: Belgium


Following on from recommendations from experts on the MLS and the Austrian Bundesliga, George Nott identifies seven potential prospects for Celtic in the Belgium Jupiler Pro League. George is a man who knows what Celtic fans wants as he’s listed not one, not two, but three right-back alternatives. But we start by going back to front:


Roman Yaremchuk

  • Position: Striker
  • Country: Ukraine
  • Club: KAA Gent
  • Born: 27.11.1995
  • Caps: 4
  • YouTube Video

Despite standing at almost 2m tall, Yaremchuk’s pace is frightening. Capable of playing on the left wing as well as up front, the young Ukranian has enjoyed a promising first 18 months in Belgian football. His finishing needs work – just 5 league goals in 20 appearances for one of the league’s biggest sides doesn’t make for the best reading – but the raw qualities are there. He’s quick, strong, and increasingly being given a chance in the Ukranian national set-up, with a move to a bigger league looking on the cards in 2019. Gent are increasingly becoming known as something of a stepping-stone club, with Croatian GK Lovre Kalinic having just moved on to Aston Villa, and it’ll not be much of a surprise if Yaremchuk moves up another level in 2019.


Paul Nardi

  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Country: France
  • Club: Cercle Brugge (on loan from Monaco)
  • Born: 18.05.1994
  • Youth Caps: 11
  • YouTube Video

Cercle Brugge are often referred to, only half jokingly, as ‘Monaco B’ in Belgium. They are owned by Monaco and their squad features a large contingent of Monaco loanees, none of whom are anywhere near the quality of Paul Nardi. Nardi was their first choice goalkeeper in their promotion campaign from the Belgian second tier last season but has already proven himself one of the top goalkeepers in the country this season. Playing in front of a conveyor belt of defenders, with Cercle possessing one of the least settled defences in the league, he bails his team out of games time and again. Three clean sheets for the season so far doesn’t really do him justice as his shot-stopping ability is superb, whilst he also looks more than comfortable with the ball at his feet. His contact situation may prove something of a stumbling block for any potential suitors, with AS Monaco owning the player, but it’s no secret that a number of bigger clubs in both Belgium and France are sniffing around after his signature.


Joakim Mæhle

  • Position: Right-back
  • Country: DenmarK
  • Club: KRC Genk
  • Born: 20.05.1997
  • Youth Caps: 3
  • YouTube Video

There’s not really any dispute that Mæhle has been the best right-back in Belgium this season. He’s already payed 34 games for Genk this season as part of their gruelling league and Europa League campaign, and has shown no sign of letting up. Genk sit far out on top of the league in Belgium and Mæhle has been a standout player. Can be caught out defensively, but is a constant menace going forward, with 2 goals and 7 assists an impressive feat for a full-back. It’s only a matter of time until he plays at a higher level.


Alexis Saelemaekers

  • Position: Right-back
  • Country: Belgium
  • Club: RSC Anderlecht
  • Born: 27.07.1999
  • Youth Caps: 7
  • YouTube Video

‘In Youth We Trust’ reads the unofficial motto of Anderlecht and, in Alexis Saelemaekers, the club have shown great faith this season. It’s been a terrible calendar year for Anderlecht – their worst since before World War II in fact – but the emergence of some bright young talents has been one positive to take from 2018. Saelemaekers made his full debut for the club in April, and is a now a regular in the side, having made 23 appearances this season already. At youth level, he played in attacking midfield as much as on the right, which explains his technical proficiency on the ball. It does also explain a tendency to be caught out defensively, with Anderlecht’s ill-fated Europa League campaign a tough lesson for Saelemaekers against some seasoned European forwards. However, he’s a supreme talent, with Lyon in particular keeping a close eye on him if rumours are to be believed and Anderlecht often willing to cash in on young talent if the price is right.


Aurelio Buta

  • Position: Right-Back/Wing-Back
  • Country: Portugal
  • Club: Royal Antwerp
  • Born: 10.02.1997
  • Youth Caps: 57
  • YouTube Video

A product of the illustrious academy at Benfica, 2018 was a breakout year for the young Portuguese right-back. He joined Antwerp in 2017 with the ‘Great Old’ club of Belgian football having just returned to the top division of Belgian football and, with them now 3rd in the league, he has established himself as first choice right-back. As always with a good right-back, he possesses bags of stamina and it’s going forward where he thrives, with him often used as a winger as a youth player. He underwent surgery over the summer but has started 11 games since his return and looks to have come back stronger.


Moussa Djenepo

2018 ended well for Moussa Djenepo; having been longlisted for the European Golden Boy award, he was then awarded Mali’s Player of the Year for 2018. Capable of playing on either wing, the youngster looks electric when he gets going and has 8 goals to his name already this season. He’s not a guaranteed starter at Standard Liege, with manager Michel Preud’homme sometimes not trusting his defensive capabilities, but going forward he is a menace. There’s not really any question that he’ll go on to play in one of Europe’s big leagues – it’s more just a question of the route he takes to get there.


Eric Ocansey

  • Position: Winger
  • Country: Ghana
  • Club: AS Eupen
  • Born: 22.08.1997
  • YouTube Video

A product of the ASPIRE Academy, Ocansey has had something of a patchy few seasons at ASPIRE-owned AS Eupen. In the ‘16/’17 season he began in electric form, initially eclipsing former Celtic target Henry Onyekuru, who now plys his trade at Galatasaray, on loan from Everton. Ocansey too attracted attention from some of Belgium’s bigger clubs but has since gone under the radar, struggling to flourish under manager Claude Makélélé who, unsurprisingly, favours a defensive brand of football. Certainly a cheaper option than some others on this list, and unsurprisingly so given his first half of the ‘18/’19 season has been poor, but glimpses here and there have shown that Ocansey could yet play at a higher level of football.

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'Scouting For Bhoys | Celtic Transfer Targets: Belgium' have 1 comment

  1. January 6, 2019 @ 2:41 am Darren Green

    Honestly who writes this shiz! You could jump on football manager and come up with tons of potential players. But if Celtic aren’t looking at these players it’s a non-story.


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