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Kick-off of the new Pro League season: here are 5 players to follow with interest

This Friday evening, Standard and La Gantoise will kick off the new season of Jupiler Pro League. Here are five players to follow with interest during this new chapter of the Belgian championship. Between discoveries and old knowledge.

Ferran Jutgla (23, FC Brugge)

Club Brugge kicks off this new national campaign with a home game against RC Genk. The defending champion hasn’t remained inactive during the transfer window and has already attracted a few players. One of them is called Ferran Jutgla. Arrived from FC Barcelona B, the Spanish striker has already stood out during the preparation. He scored a few goals and in the Supercup he played a very solid first half. During this duel against Genk on Sunday, he should be in the base eleven.

The question is whether the Club will stop there on the transfer market. The Spaniard has the best chance of becoming the new top striker, but the club would like to add another element to their attacking sector. With the departure of Loïs Openda, and Noa Lang and Charles De Ketelaere ever closer to the exit, the Club could see its strike force seriously diminish. Vincent Mannaert and his colleagues will not spend a very quiet rest of the summer. It will be necessary to activate behind the scenes so that the champion remains competitive.

Massimo Bruno (28, Kortrijk)

An interesting transfer for Kerels because he is an experienced player who knows our competition well. Massimo Bruno returned to the country for free after a Turkish getaway to Bursaspor. Almost ten years ago, Bruno lived his hours of glory under the jacket of Anderlecht, where he won the title twice as one of the important elements of the base eleven. After leaving for Salzburg, his career began to falter and returned to Brussels in 2016. But this second chapter in purple was not crowned with the same success. Bruno therefore left for Charleroi, where he had done part of his schooling. In the Black Country, the winger has scored 10 goals in 75 matches.

After a season in Turkey, he settled down in West Flanders. Bruno was considered a top talent for a long time and is still only 28 years old. He may be able to rediscover his genius at the Golden Spurs stadium, under the leadership of Karim Belhocine under whose orders he was at Charleroi. During the opening weekend, Kortrijk will play at home against Leuven. An adversary who must be within reach of Kerels.

Massimo Bruno finds Karim Belhocine in Kortrijk after their collaboration in Charleroi. © iStock

Shinji Kagawa (33, Sint-Truiden)

Last winter, his arrival had been a real surprise for the followers of the Belgian championship. The Japanese, who came through Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund, was expected to take STVV to the next level. In what remained of the season, Kagawa showed some snippets of his enormous talent, but he mostly displayed his physical limitations. He was started only once and only took part in eight small meetings.

This season, things could change. He’s started in almost every warm-up game and also converted from a penalty which could mean he’ll play a bigger role this year. And since the future of Christian Bruels who will force to get a contract extension remains unclear. Everything seems in place to attend the real launch of the Japanese international.

After an unremarkable first six months, Shinji Kagawa wants to assert himself at Stayen., iStock
After six nondescript months, Shinji Kagawa wants to assert himself at Stayen. © iStock

Raphael Holzhauser (29, OH Leuven)

After the departure of Xavier Mercier, Louvain had to look for a new playmaker capable of distributing the caviars by the shovel. Academics believe they have found the ideal successor in the person of Raphael Holzhauser, who did not want to go down to the second division with Beerschot. The Austrian, who came second in the election of Golden Shoe in 2020, must prove itself again after a very weak weak season where it sank like all its partners in the Rats. Holzhauser was unable to repeat his spectacular year and seemed completely lost like the time he was fielded in central defense with an early dismissal to the locker room.

But he definitely deserves to get a second chance in our competition. Marc Brys will have to see how he wants to integrate the Austrian, he who plays a little differently from what we have seen in Louvain for the past two years under the magic wand of Mercier. Replacing the French strategist does not look like an easy task. We’ll have to see if Holzhauser can get his awesome, evil left foot back in the coming weeks.

Rapha Holzhauser will have to overshadow Xavier Mercier's assists at Den Dreef., iStock
Rapha Holzhauser will have to forget the assists of Xavier Mercier at Den Dreef. © iStock

Sebastiano Esposito (20, Anderlecht)

Anderlecht will expect a lot from Sebastiano Esposito. A boy who seems to have a good flair for the goal, it can only give sparks to the Lotto Park. He has already shown this goalscoring instinct during a gala match against Olympique Lyonnais. He scored a nice header from a corner and wants to follow the example of his great friend at Inter Milan: Romelu Lukaku. A player who receives the blessing of Big Rome to join Anderlecht, must have something to offer in return. The Purple and Whitewho begin a new era with Felice Mazzu at their head, will face KV Ostend for their first meeting of the competition.

In Saint-Guidon,Sebastiano Esposito will try to follow in the footsteps of his friend Romelu Lukaku., iStock
At Saint-Guidon, Sebastiano Esposito will try to follow in the footsteps of his friend Romelu Lukaku. © iStock

Club Brugge kicks off this new national campaign with a home game against RC Genk. The defending champion hasn’t remained inactive during the transfer window and has already attracted a few players. One of them is called Ferran Jutglà. Arrived from FC Barcelona B, the Spanish striker has already stood out during the preparation. He scored a few goals and in the Supercup he played a very solid first half. In this duel against Genk on Sunday, he should be in the base eleven. The question is whether the Club will stop there on the transfer market. The Spaniard has the best chance of becoming the new top striker, but the club would like to add another element to their attacking sector. With the departure of Loïs Openda, and Noa Lang and Charles De Ketelaere ever closer to the exit, the Club could see its strike force seriously diminish. Vincent Mannaert and his colleagues will not spend a very quiet rest of the summer. It will be necessary to activate behind the scenes so that the champion remains competitive. An interesting transfer for the Kerels because it is about an experienced player who knows our competition well. Massimo Bruno returned to the country for free after a Turkish getaway to Bursaspor. Almost ten years ago, Bruno lived his hours of glory under the jacket of Anderlecht, where he won the title twice as one of the important elements of the base eleven. After leaving for Salzburg, his career began to falter and returned to Brussels in 2016. But this second chapter in purple was not crowned with the same success. Bruno therefore left for Charleroi, where he had done part of his schooling. In the Black Country, the winger scored 10 goals in 75 matches. After a season in Turkey, he settled down in West Flanders. Bruno was considered a top talent for a long time and is still only 28 years old. He may be able to rediscover his genius at the Golden Spurs stadium, under the leadership of Karim Belhocine under whose orders he was in Charleroi. During the opening weekend, Kortrijk will play at home against Leuven. An opponent who must be within reach of Kerels. Last winter, his arrival was a real surprise for the followers of the Belgian championship. The Japanese, who came through Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund, was expected to take STVV to the next level. In what remained of the season, Kagawa showed some snippets of his enormous talent, but he mostly displayed his physical limitations. He has only started once and only played eight small games. This season, things could change. He’s started in almost every warm-up game and also converted from a penalty which could mean he’ll play a bigger role this year. And given that the future of Christian Brüls who forces to obtain a contract extension remains uncertain. Everything seems in place to witness the real launch of the Japanese international. After the departure of Xavier Mercier, Louvain had to look for a new playmaker capable of distributing the caviars by the shovel. The Universities think they have found the ideal successor in the person of Raphael Holzhauser, who did not want to go down to the second division with Beerschot. The Austrian, who came second in the Golden Boot election in 2020, must again prove himself after a very weak weak season in which he sank like all his partners in the Rats. Holzhauser was unable to repeat his spectacular year and looked completely lost like the time he was fielded in central defense with an early dismissal to the locker room. But he certainly deserves to get a second chance in our competition. Marc Brys will have to see how he wants to integrate the Austrian, who plays a little differently from what we have seen in Leuven over the past two years under Mercier’s magic wand. Replacing the French strategist does not look like an easy task. We’ll have to see if Holzhauser can get his genius, devilish left foot back in the coming weeks. Anderlecht will be expecting a lot from Sebastiano Esposito. A boy who seems to have a good flair for the goal, it can only give sparks to the Lotto Park. He has already shown this goalscoring instinct during a gala match against Olympique Lyonnais. He scored a nice header from a corner and wants to follow the example of his great friend at Inter Milan: Romelu Lukaku. A player who receives Big Rom’s blessing to join Anderlecht must have something to offer in return. The Mauve et Blanc, who are entering a new era with Felice Mazzu at their head, will face KV Ostend for their first meeting of the competition.

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