Leo looking to land starting spot with Belgium

Albion forward heads to the World Cup in great form.

By Bruce Talbot • 18 November 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Leandro Trossard has made 21 appearances for Belgium.

Leandro Trossard hopes he will get the chance to reproduce his Albion form for Belgium when the World Cup gets underway next week. 

Trossard is one of eight Albion players in Qatar for the finals and arrives having enjoyed an outstanding start to the season with seven goals and three assists. He is one goal short of equaling Glenn Murray and Neal Maupay’s record of 26 Premier League goals for the club. 

Trossard believes his domestic form has earned him more appreciation in Belgium where he has yet to nail down a regular place in the Red Devils line-up.

The 27-year-old has played 21 times and scored five goals since making his debut in 2018 although he last played an entire 90 minutes in February 2021 against Belarus, 13 games ago. 

He said, “There has been more appreciation and attention from Belgium recently. I've been doing well for a few seasons, but my stats were never exceptional. Now they are and I have scored mainly against the big boys [Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea]. I feel myself that I've taken that extra step this season.”

In Belgium the argument is that Trossard and Eden Hazard cannot play in the same team, as both prefer the deep-lying role behind the main striker Romelu Lukaku. Hazard comes into the World Cup with doubts over his fitness. He has only played 72 games for Real Madrid since joining them in 2019. 

Trossard disagrees that he and Hazard are incompatible and believes he is worth a starting role based on current form. He has shown his versatility with Albion when operating as a wing-back and that could give head coach Roberto Martinez another option. 

"I don't understand that discussion simply because Eden and I can also play together, also because my performance speaks for itself,” added Trossard. “At this level in the Premier League, I was never better. I've proven over the last few months that I'm ready for a starting place but it's not for me to proclaim that I should play. I think I would deserve it, and no one would dare to say I don't, but that offers me no guarantees."

Belgium reached the semi-finals in 2018 before losing 1-0 to eventual winners France and they are still ranked No2 in the world. They are expected to emerge from a group also containing Canada, Morocco and Croatia and although theirs is an ageing squad – only Argentina and Australia have a greater average age than Belgium’s 27.4 years – Trossard is confident a group containing seven Premier League players including a world-class talent in Kevin de Bruyne can make an impression.

“If we have a fit squad, we aim as high as possible. We have an abundance of talent and now is the time, but it depends on so many factors like injuries. When I read reports about Romelu Lukaku's ailments I sometimes curse. We need him because his impact on the team is huge. Hopefully Romelu will be fit for the start of the tournament.

“There are still a lot of youngsters with quality coming through. Besides, the best players don't always win. Italy individually was not the best at the European Championship in 2021, but they compensated for that with their collective.”