The second tier of Belgian football, the Challenger Pro League, kicks off this weekend. As always, there are plenty of young talented players throughout the teams in the league. Here are our five to watch out for ahead of the season opener.
Darwin Karim (Lommel)
Lommel, part of the City Group, spent around €2.1m on Togolese international Darwin Karim. The 19-year-old has already been capped eight times by the Togolese national team, scoring one goal. The teenager only made one appearance for the Feyenoord first team before Lommel swooped in. Karim, who operates more as a defensive central midfielder, will certainly be one to watch to see if the money was well invested.
Pape Diop (Zulte Waregem)
Zulte Waregem were happy to allow Pape Diop to join up with the Senegal U20 side for the AFCON U20. The 19-year-old impressed at the tournament as the side went on to win the trophy. He also impressed during the U20 World Cup. With Zulte Waregem having been relegated, there is hope that Diop will now get more chances in the first team. He has good experience around him in Ruud Vormer and Christian Brüls to learn from.
Hakim Sahabo (SL16 FC)
Nearly all of the youth teams in the CPL have young talented players to watch. One of interest will certainly be Hakim Sahabo. The 18-year-old Rwandan international joined from Lille in the summer and signed a deal until 2026. He has already won five caps for the Rwandan national team, but is also eligible for Belgium having been born in Brussels. He can play as an attacking midfielder or a left winger.
Thomas van Bommel (Patro Eisden)
With is dad winning the league at Antwerp last season, Thomas van Bommel will certainly have plenty of eyes on him this season. Patro Eisden won promotion to the CPL last season and will hope to consolidate this season. Like his father, the younger van Bommel operates in central midfield. Last season he was playing in the second tier of Dutch football with MVV Maastricht. Patro Eisden will be hoping he can bring some of his dads success to their season.
Matthew Healy (Francs Borains)
Another of the promoted sides, Francs Borains, were also active in the summer. They brought in now former Ipswich youth prospect Matthew Healy. The 21-year-old, eligible for both the USA and Ireland, had a solid season this year for Cork in the Irish Premier Division. He played 16 times, scoring twice and providing one assist from central midfield. The side are certainly ambitious and clearly see Healy as a player that can help them consolidate this season and then push for promotion in the future.