Roberto Martinez has revealed why the current crop of Belgian players will always among his list of transfer targets.
The Everton boss says the generation of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas are the product of excellent long-term planning by the Belgium Football Association.
Martinez, who also brought the teenager David Henen to Everton on loan this season, believes this group of players have the “right mentality” and consistently shown themselves to be “fighters”.
The Catalan smashed Everton’s transfer record to sign Lukaku for £28m last summer, is adamant Mirallas is central to his plans and is currently mulling over a deal to keep Henen.
Martinez says Belgium players tick many of the boxes he has when looking for potential signings.
“The Belgium FA put in a very strong plan 10 years ago and developed a way of developing players in a 4-2-3-1 system that gave players a really strong technical education,” Martinez said.
“Then they have shown the right mentality.
“They are capable of moving abroad at a young age and finding the way to be important for the team.
“They are really strong performers and that combination of that programme form the Belgian FA and the mentality of that generation has created an exceptional group of players who are going to be hugely successful at international level.
“As individuals they are great to work with, they are fighters and know how to find a way to be affective for the team but always in a professional way.”
Two of Belgium’s leading strikers will go head-to-head at Villa Park on Saturday as Everton face Aston Villa – 18 goal Lukaku and Villa’s Benteke, who has 13.
Martinez says the pair are different but explains why he favours Lukaku.
“They are different players,” he said.
“It is fair to say that Benteke has done well since he arrived in the Premier League and is someone who consistently is a goal scoring threat.
“I’ve always said that I’ve got a soft touch for Romelu and as a striker I think he is quite unique. There is not another 21-year-old around world football with his capabilities and he’s a complete footballer. He is not someone who has a preferred profile and he has many strengths and many ways of playing.
“This Aston Villa team are very dynamic and we will be heavily tested and will have to be at our best.
“There will be many interesting battles; Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, Romelu and Benteke and there are some very good English players as well. It is a very interesting clash of mirrored squads and it is going to be a team effort. In the last six games, Aston Villa have been one of the most impressive teams in the Premier League.”