Portsmouth boss targets surprise new overseas market as transfer hunt intensifies

Danny Cowley is ready to cast his net across Europe to land the key additions his Pompey squad needs.

By Jordan Cross
Friday, 26th November 2021, 6:00 pm

And the Belgian league has emerged as a key area of focus, as the Blues recruitment team identifies players who can bolster the head coach’s ranks.

Cowley is centring his attention on landing a centre-back and striker ahead of next month’s January window.

Non-league striker Kyle Wootton is an option in the attacking area, while Irish front man Georgie Kelly has been mentioned as a potential target.

The Bohemians man is a player Cowley is aware of, although The News understands he’s not looking to advance a move for the 25-year-old at present.

The Republic of Ireland Premier Division is a market Pompey are considering tapping into, however, along with Scotland and Holland.

But it’s the Belgian First Division A, currently led by Christian Burgess’ Union Saint-Gilloise, which offers a fascinating and untapped option for Pompey.

Cowley said: ‘We have been watching a lot of football.

Pompey are looking to tap into the Belgian market where Anderlecht and Royal Union Saint-Gilloise play (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

‘We’ve been watching a lot of football in Belgium, which is a good market.

‘It’s becoming slightly harder to bring players in from Europe, but Belgium is a good league.

‘The finances of the lower clubs in the division are not dissimilar to League One budgets.

‘We’re looking in Ireland, Scotland, Holland and Belgium.

Former Pompey defender Christian Burgess has shone in Belgium this season, where his side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise top the table of a league Pompey are looking to tap into. (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

‘It’s what we have to do and that’s the challenge for a very small recruitment team.

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‘It doesn’t make it easy for us, but these are the challenges we need to overcome.’

Pompey signed Rasmus Nicolaisen on loan from Danish outfit FC Nordsjaelland last season, while Ronan Curtis has proved a hit after arriving from Irish side Derry City in 2018.

Cowley stressed there are more obstacles to overcome with ensuring overseas signings work - and that means more preparatory work is required.

He added: ‘You have to be realistic and make sure, first and foremost, the players are affordable.

‘Then you have to make sure the players are good enough. That’s what you’re trying to do.

‘You can’t shop in the top divisions in other European countries, for obvious reasons really. So it’s making sure the target is realistic.

‘If we can find a realistic target, then we can look at their competencies.

‘There’s definitely more risk when you go abroad, because there’s more variables which can affect the outcome of the signing.

‘The style of football can be very different, and there has to be a lot of thought to help them hit the ground running.’

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