De Bruyne and Lukaku out, De Ketelaere in: How will Belgium line up at the 2026 World Cup?
It's official, then: Belgium's 'Golden Generation' is over. Their miserable group-stage exit at the 2022 World Cup confirmed as much, as an ageing squad of star names struggled to stamp any kind of authority on the tournament before heading home after three games.
Manager Roberto Martinez has already confirmed his departure, and this will surely be the last go around for a number of the team's stalwarts.
Euro 2024 is only 18 months away, so some players might feel they have one more international tournament in them, but it feels highly unlikely that veterans like Toby Alderweireld, Axel Witsel and Jan Vertonghen will make it all the way to the 2026 World Cup.
Injuries probably mean that Eden Hazard has also played his last World Cup, while Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku will have to weigh up whether they can face another cycle while playing for what is likely to be a much-inferior team than they are used to.
That is not to say Belgium do not have talented young players coming through, with some already part of the senior international squad. But who will be lining-up for them in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026, presuming they qualify?
GOAL has had a go at predicting their next World Cup XI...