What a whirlwind week it has been for Moroccan international Younes Belhanda. This summer Montpellier agreed that the 23-year-old could leave the Ligue 1 outfit for a new challenge. He was then linked with a litany of clubs including those in the Premier League; with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa said to be leading the charge.
But it was then announced late on Sunday evening, in the midst of the Confederations Cup Final, that he had completed a shock move to Ukrainian powerhouse Dynamo Kiev in a deal believed to be worth £9.7 million.
The deal came as a shock because the playmaker had previously suggested a desire to play in England or Germany with teams from both the Premier League and Bundesliga interested his move to Ukraine was considered odd.
Perhaps that is where the rumour from L’Equipe came from that Belhanda was to pull the plug on the transfer after realising he had made a big mistake; a rumour since strongly denied by the Moroccan:
"I am very glad to become a player of Dynamo Kiev. The day before yesterday I signed a five-year contract with the club. Dynamo are the top club in Europe, who I very much want to play for and with whom I dream to win the Ukrainian championship. I will not comment on rumours which appeared in the French press. I can only say that I'm a Dynamo player and will represent the colours of the club in the coming years."
That puts an end to that!
Belhanda is part of an ambitious spending spree from Kiev which has also seen Dieumerci Mbokani and Jeremain Lens arrive from Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven respectively this summer; as they try desperately to keep up with Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv whilst also looking over their shoulders at Dnipro.
It is the second summer in succession that they have gone down this route in order to keep up with their rivals. Last year they spent over €40 million on new talent including Portuguese international Miguel Veloso, Argentine striker Marco Ruben and Brazilian forward Raffael.
They also snapped up a certain Niko Kranjcar from Tottenham Hotspur for £6 million.
But with the arrival of Belhanda it seems Kranjcar’s place at Kiev is now in major doubt.
He failed to impress in the Ukrainian capital and to make matters worse suffered a serious knee injury whilst on international duty toward the end of the season that ended his campaign.
With Belhanda’s arrival he now finds himself in competition with a fitter and younger rival who plays in the exact same positions; leaving the Croatian with a battle to get back in the first-team when fully fit.
It looks a battle he will lose. In recent months he has been linked with a move to Austria, Iran and Russia as his time at Kiev looks to be coming to an end.
And the arrival of this former Tottenham target could be the final nail in the coffin for this former Spurs player.
image: © apasciuto