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The race for Belgium's next greatest star hots up between Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester United

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

A few hours ago, with a 3-0 win over Israel, Belgium confirmed their ascension to the very top of FIFA's moderately flawed world rankings list, for the first in their and the rankings' history.  While next-door neighbors Netherlands (#1 for a month back in 2011) failed to even qualify for Euro 2016, Belgium are flying high on the wings of a golden generation, and with more reinforcements in sight even.  Where the Dutch were once the ultimate hotbed of endless talent in the Low Countries, that honor now belongs to Belgium.  (Don't worry, Luxembourg, you'll get your turn, too!)

One of the shiniest new toys coming off the Belgian assembly line of talent is 18-year-old Youri Tielemans, who has almost 100 professional appearances to his name already, including a Champions League debut at 16 for Anderlecht.  He's clearly a tremendous talent, with fantastic technique and vision for someone so young.  As with many highly promising prospects, it's easy to get carried away, but it's clear that Tielemans is destined for something far greater than Belgium's Jupiler League.  The expectation is that he'll fulfill that destiny sooner rather than later, perhaps as soon as this January.

Chelsea have been linked before of course, back in March, and since then the only thing that's changed is that there have been more names thrown into the pot of suitors for the young midfielder.  Pick your favorite dubious source, pick your favorite big name in Europe, and chances are they will have been already linked with Tielemans.  Barcelona, for example, are perhaps already in advanced talks, while the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund are supposedly trying their best to get back in the race for the kid's signature.  Chelsea are often mentioned as well, and while we're well stocked in similar positions already -- fellow Belgian Charly Musonda Jr comes to mind immediately, as does Ruben Loftus-Cheek who's already a step ahead of both youngsters as far as Chelsea first-team integration goes -- the Loan Army needs to be kept well fed and provisioned, and Tielemans would certainly represent quite a tasty (if expensive) delicacy for it.

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