Mohamed Mallahi has admitted that he turned down a move to Premier League outfit Leeds United because he wanted to hone his talents in the Eredivisie first, while speaking to Voetbal Zone.
During his first couple of years at Elland Road, Victor Orta was not the cult hero is he today. Far from it.
A rather mixed record in the transfer market meant the former Middlesbrough director had his fair share of doubters in West Yorkshire.
Mallahi, in many ways, would have epitomised Orta’s approach in those early days; a little-known youngster snapped up from a market where few would dare to tread.
Did Mallahi make the right call rejecting Leeds United?
It is not certain when Leeds came calling but, given that he is now 21 and still plying his trade for Utrecht’s B team in the Dutch second tier, it seems the Premier League ship has sailed for Mallahi; a fading dot on the horizon.
“I didn’t do that (join Leeds) because I wanted to break through in the Netherlands and not go abroad too quickly,” explained Mallahi.
“Utrecht seemed the perfect option for me.”
The Netherlands youth international has made just one first-team appearance for his hometown club, handed a 12-minute Eredivisie cameo during a 5-1 thrashing of PEC Zwolle in September.
“My connection with FC Utrecht and the city also played a role in not going to those clubs. It’s not easy to make such a decision, you definitely need advice from people around you,” added Mallahi, who joined the club’s academy a decade ago.
“I feel like this is the year of my breakthrough. It has to be. I am ready for the next step, I really want to play in the Eredivisie.”
While the impassioned Orta has become something of a fan favourite at Elland Road – he played a major role in the deal that brought Marcelo Bielsa to West Yorkshire after all – there are still serious misgivings about his transfer record.
Junior Firpo, Rodrigo Moreno, Diego Llorente and Robin Koch are yet to live up to their hefty price-tags, although a series of unfortunate injuries certainly haven’t helped.