Gent should have made the top four last season, missing out on the final day after a defeat to already relegated KV Oostende. They did then romp to victory in play-off two, and thanks to Antwerp’s cup win they secured a place in the qualification rounds for the Conference League. There has been a transition during the summer, with a number of high wage or out of favour players leaving.
Head coach: Hein Vanhaezebrouck (Returning)
Players in: Tsuyoshi Watanabe (Kortrijk), Pieter Gerkens (Antwerp), Ismaël Kandouss (Union St Gilloise), Keegan Jelacic (Perth Glory)
Players out: Joseph Okumu (Stade Reims), Vadis Odjiidja Ofoe (Hadjuk Split), Darko Lemajic (RFS), Bruno Godeau (Sint-Truiden), Cedrick Van Daele (KV Oostende), Giorgi Chakvetadze (Watford, loan), Sulayman Marreh (free), Jordan Botaka (free)
Player to watch: Malick Fofana
18-year-old Malick Fofana saw an increase in game time last season as he was repeatedly trusted by Vanhaezebrouck in Europe and domestically. He grabbed four assists and impressed with what was obvious talent. He will hopefully continue to progress this season with increased game time and no doubt he will grab his first professional goal.
With Okumu gone, the side could probably do with another central defender. Watanabe and Kandouss should be good additions to the squad, but they were replacing two departing players already. Gent suffered plenty of injuries that curtailed their season last time out, so this year they should be aiming to mitigate this as much as possible.
The team, on paper at least, has everything needed for a successful season. The defence looks strong, the midfield solid and then the strikers are exciting. Tarik Tissoudali, Hugo Cuypers and Gift Orban all have 20 goal seasons in them, and it will be interesting to see how Vanhaezebrouck uses all three. Gent should be challenging for the title, but many thought that last season and they were a long way off the pace by the end.