West Ham have performed a notable transfer coup with the acquisition of Cheikhou Kouyate from Anderlecht. The Senegal international had previously been linked with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City no less, but the Boleyn Ground is his confirmed destination.
Kouyate joins from the Belgian champions on a four-year deal, and the Hammers have been very keen to make it known that there were able to fend of competition for the 24-year-old from some of Europe’s elite. He costs West Ham a reported £7 million.
Last week David Sullivan, West Ham’s co-chairman, offered an update to fans on the club’s transfer dealings, and confirmed they were in negotiations with a particular player who was also wanted by top teams from the continent. It would appear that Kouyate was the player Sullivan was referring to.
The Arsenal interest
Arsenal were credited serious interest indeed in Kouyate, with the player’s agent claiming the Gunners had been in touch with Anderlecht regarding a proposed deal to bring the Senegalese to the Emirates Stadium.
Kouyate has earned comparisons to former Arsenal star Sol Campbell for his style of play and commanding performances, but it may be that his versatility is what appealed to Arsene Wenger most.
Although he has been deployed predominantly as a centre-back, Kouyate is also adept at operating in a midfield anchor role - a position which Wenger has been keen to fill. West Ham, meanwhile, made a clear to highlight in their media release that they had signed a midfielder, rather than a defender.
The Liverpool interest
Liverpool, too, had been credited with an approach for Kouyate, with Brendan Rodgers supposedly having been keen lure the player to Anfield in the January transfer window as he looked to reinforce his ranks.
Following Liverpool’s return to the Champions League, reinforcements have taken on an even greater importance for Rodgers given the rigours that come with being involved in European football. But was Kouyate a summer target? He was, according to the Daily Express at least.
The Manchester City interest
Kouyate’s agent also claimed Manchester City had made contact regarding the proposed acquisition of his client. This supposed approach came in January, but could have possibly been his agent attempting to spark a bidding war.
But how did West Ham sign him?
Sam Allardyce is far from popular with the West Ham faithful and, in the eyes of many, was fortunate indeed to keep his job in the summer. But he may be able to endear himself slightly after it emerged it was his personal intervention that concluded the Kouyate deal for his club.
Kouyate said: "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.”
"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.”