Saturday, 8th September, 2012
Highly rated Anderlecht defender Cheikhou Kouyate has revealed that, had the Belgian giants not qualified for the Champions League this season, he would most likely be playing his football with Arsenal.
Kouyate put in a series of fine performances in Brussels last year and capped his campaign off by travelling to the 2012 London Olympic Games with Senegal.
In the United Kingdom, Kouyate, who can also operate as a defensive midfielder, stood out as an impressive prospect in the Senegal side, helping the African country to record a performance which offered much hope for the future.
At the time, Kouyate’s agent had insisted that his phone was ringing off the hook with interested parties. But the Dakar-born youngster ultimately opted to remain with Anderlecht, citing the strong desire of the Belgian giants to retain him and the attitude of the club’s supporters, combined with the vital factor of Champions League qualification.
"Anderlecht fans begged me to stay and showed me that I have a lot to appreciate", said Kouyate.
"But the important thing was that we managed to qualify for the Champions League", added the Senegal youngster, before going on to reveal that, had that not happened, he would most likely be wearing an Arsenal shirt by now.
"If that had not worked out successfully, then I think I would be playing in London.
"I had a good feeling about contact from Wenger and Arsenal."
Anderlecht were delighted to keep hold of Kouyate for this season and the Belgian giants will need the 22-year-old to be at his best, not just domestically, but in the Champions League too; the Belgian side are in Group C, with Malaga, AC Milan and Zenit St. Petersburg.
Another good season for Kouyate would also see his value continue to increase and, under contract only until 2014 with the Brussels-based outfit, next summer may represent the optimum time to cash in on the Senegal star.
The 22-year-old has also been linked with Manchester City and Newcastle United.