At the start of May it seemed likely that both Younes Belhanda and Aleksandar Dragovic would be playing in the Premier League next season. The Moroccan had made it clear he was leaving Montpellier and that England or Germany was his first choice; with it at one point looking as though a move to Aston Villa was imminent.
Dragovic had similar sentiments; admitting that linking up with a national team-mate in the Premier League would be a dream come true:
"I regular speak to Andreas [Weimann], who has told me a lot about how much he enjoys playing in England. Its competition at the highest level, which is what I'm looking for. The fans are fantastic, and the clubs command a lot of respect around the world."
Dragovic had no shortage of suitors. Arsenal have the most outstanding link with his signature; being talked of as a destination for around 18 months now. But the likes of Everton, Sunderland and Southampton were also said to be keen; with Manchester United’s interest being born out of Davd Moyes’ switch to Old Trafford.
Just like Belhanda it seemed he had all the chance in the world to come to England. On top of that Aston Villa interest Belhanda was reportedly courted by both Tottenham and Arsenal in 2012-13.
But next season the pair will be team-mates … at Dynamo Kiev.
For the second season in a row the Ukrainian side are attempting to claw back domestic supremacy from Shakhtar Donetsk. With their rivals at the Donbass losing some key players in the past six months they have a genuine belief that this might just be their season.
Along with Dragovic and Belhanda they have also snapped up Dieumerci Mbokani and Jeremain Lens from Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven respectively and are certainly in the best position ever to finally win back the Ukrainian League title for the first time since 2009.
The deal for Dragovic is also a landmark for an Austrian player. The €9 million spent on the 22-year-old defender makes him the most expensive Austrian of all time; beating the record previously set by Marc Janko when he switched Red Bull Salzburg for FC Twente for €6.5 million in 2010.
It is also a shock as for the past month he seemed destined to join Inter Milan, with the player desperate for it to happen, only for a deal to collapse.
"Dynamo Kiev is the best club in Eastern Europe ... This move is fantastic for me, I've made the next step in my career."
But for Premier League teams... they better start hoping this Ukrainian snubbing does not become a regular occurrence.
image: © _becaro_