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After four years in Belgium, does former Hull City and Peterborough midfielder deserve another crack at English football?



Carlos Avina, the former Director of Football at Cercle Brugge, once told myself and colleagues from the Belgian Football Podcast that he believed Leonardo Lopes was once of the most underrated players in the Belgian Pro League. Avina and Cercle parted with €2m in 2020 to sign the midfielder from Hull City. The now 25-year-old signed a four year deal with the club and has gone on to make 109 appearances for the side, scoring five goals and providing seven assists.

Avina was not wrong about Lopes. The midfielder has been an absolute mainstay in the Cercle side under multiple head coaches, all of whom have looked to deploy a counter-pressing system within which the Portuguese midfielder has thrived. Yet with his contract up in the summer, the question is whether or not Lopes will return for another crack at English football. During his time in the EFL he played for Wigan, Gillingham, Hull City and Peterborough. At Posh he made 108 appearances, with four goals and four assists. Before leaving to join the Cercle project he made 44 appearances for Hull in the Championship and the domestic cups.

Cercle would definitely love to see him stay, and will be sad to see him leave for free in the summer if he chooses to move on. Other Belgian clubs will certainly be interested in acquiring the midfielder, who has shown that he has a lot to offer any side in the league.

Yet as is always the case with Cercle, they have already brought in players who can replace Lopes should he move on. Highly rated Ghanaian midfielder Abu Francis is making his way back after a long injury lay off, while they also brought in young Nils De Wilde from Anderlecht last summer.

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