Ligue 1 Conforama was hit by an influx of Belgian talent in the summer transfer window, with no fewer than eight Red Devils making the move to France's top flight.
In the recent World Cup semi-final between France and Belgium, Les Bleus knocked out a side full of players familiar with Ligue 1 Conforama (Eden Hazard, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Michy Batshuayi, Thomas Meunier, Youri Tielemans). Now these long-standing ties between the neighbouring countries have been further bolstered with a serious influx of Belgian players to France top flight in the summer transfer window.
Back-up for Meunier, Tielemans
Belgians were the order of the day in Ligue 1 Conforama's 2018 transfer window. While Brazil is usually the biggest exporter of talent, Belgium gave them a run for their money this year, and as a result, Thomas Meunier (PSG), Youri Tielemans (AS Monaco), Baptiste Guillaume (Nîmes), Stef Peeters (SM Caen) and Joris Kayembe (FC Nantes) saw eight of their fellow Red Devils join them in France.
Eight new Belgians in Ligue 1 Conforama
This summer, Aaron Leya Iseka (20) - the younger brother of Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi - was the first Belgian to make his way over to Ligue 1 Conforama (Toulouse FC), making his return to our championship after a spell with OM two seasons ago. Then came Thomas Foket (Reims) from Gent, followed by Matz Sels (26), who signed for RC Strasbourg Alsace on 27 July, with Björn Engels (Reims, 23), and internationals trio Jason Denayer (OL), Anthony Limbombe (FC Nantes) and Laurent Ciman (Dijon FCO).
A Turkish Champion last season with Galatasaray, Denayer will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Liège's Eric Deflandre, who won three Ligue 1 Conforama titles with OL in the 2000s. Limbombe will look to emulate Franky Vercauteren at FC Nantes, while Ciman, a free-kick specialist, will be out to put his stamp on the league as other Belgian defenders have done in the past - notably Daniel van Buyten and Philippe Léonard, who won two Ligue 1 Conforama titles with Monaco (1997 and 2000).
In the principality, Nacer Chadli, this summer's seventh Belgian, will look to continue the success story of Belgian wide-men after Nabil Dirar (a Ligue 1 Conforama champions with Monaco in 2017), with whom he shares Moroccan origins. If he manages to do so, he could well arrive at more positive perception of France after having been a starter for the Red evils in that losing semi-final against Les Bleus…