Wednesday 18 June 2014
West Ham United have made their second signing of the summer with the capture of Senegal midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, who has agreed a four-year deal.
The 24-year-old Senegalese international, who follows Argentinian striker Mauro Zarate to the Hammers, joins from Belgian Pro League champions Anderlecht, where he won four league titles in five seasons and also played in the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League.
"As a kid I dreamed of playing in the Premier League and now it's here that my dream has been realised"
Last season, the 1.93 metres tall defensive midfielder started 38 matches and scored one goal for an Anderlecht side who captured their 33rd league title . Kouyate has also made his mark on the international stage, with 11 caps for Senegal, where he has appeared alongside new club-mate Mohamed Diame. He featured in FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifiers and played a part at the London 2012 Olympic Games, where his side progressed to the quarter-finals.
Kouyate joined FC Brussels when he moved to Europe at 15 and made his senior debut in the 2007/08 season. At the end of the campaign he was signed by Anderlecht, where he won his first league title in the 2009/10 season. Anderlecht have since won the title in the last three years and he has also lifted the Belgian Super Cup on three occasions. In addition, he has played in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League in each of the last two seasons.
Kouyate was delighted to complete the move to east London and is excited about playing in the English top flight.
"I am very happy, because today West Ham have given me the chance to play in the Premier League," Kouyate told the club's website. "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 here last season. West Ham are a team 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."
West Ham joint-chairman David Sullivan said the club had to fight off tough competition from "some huge clubs" across Europe to sign Kouyate.
"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," Sullivan said. "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 [Hotspur] on 16 August as we aim for at least a top-ten finish this season."