West Ham United have clinched their second signing of the summer through the 6"4 Senegalese giant, Cheikhou Kouyate.
The centre-back - who can also play as a midfielder - has joined from Belgian champions Anderlecht, where he has spent the majority of his career, and despite only having played in the Belgian Pro League has come up against some of the world's best strikers in the Champions League; experience which will undoubtedly benefit the Premier League side next season.
The 24-year-old will likely pair up with Winston Reid in the West Ham back line, and with the Hammers still looking to sign at least one full-back, could provide the base of an intimidating back four next year, only adding to the one which kept 14 clean sheets last season. He also regularly lines up in midfield, so could be used there.
The London club managed to sign the Senegalese international despite a late bid from Valencia, believed to be in the region of £7.5 million, and apparent interest from Arsenal. It is the second top-signing for the Hammers this summer, with Argentinian striker Mauro Zarate having already been added to the squad.
These two additions show great intent from the West Ham board, with co-chairmen David Sullivan confirming that they are still looking to add more players as they aim for a top-ten finish next season.
"I am absolutely delighted to have clinched the signing of Cheikhou after weeks of tough negotiations that saw us beat off the challenge of some huge clubs across Europe for his signature," Mr Sullivan said.
"He comes with vast experience at the top level - including the Champions League - despite being only 24 and I am sure he will add valuable competition to places.
"We are determined to have a better season this year and this signing is a statement of the direction the Club is heading in. We hope to have at least four more signings in place by the time we kick-off against Tottenham on 16 August as we aim for at least a top-ten finish this season."
Kouyate confirmed his desire to move to Upton Park in an interview with West Ham TV. "I am very happy, because today West Ham have given me the chance to play in the Premier League. So I'm very happy to join such a club and that gives me great pleasure.
"I know a few players who were also at the club, [Carlos] Tevez, Demba [Ba], Andy Carroll, who was obviously here last season. West Ham are a team who are known and who are going to help me to progress. For my part, I'm going to try to do great things here and try to improve further still as a player.
"That I'm here now is thanks to the manager, because he went out of his way, leaving his holiday for me, so he has done everything he could for me to join the club. He, my advisers and agents helped me make the right decision and said West Ham was the ideal club for me, because as a kid I dreamed of playing in the Premier League and now it's here that my dream has been realised."
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