The Senegal and Anderlecht defender Cheikhou Kouyate was part of the Anderlecht side that captured the Belgian league title last season and his agent revealed last month the Senegal Under-20 international was the target of interest from the Gunners as well as Premier League clubs Newcastle and West Ham after impressing hugely for his country in the Olympic football tournament. Kouyate was also a target for Arsenal prior to joining Anderlecht in 2008.
However, after picking up a Belgian League-winners’ medal last season and with the prospect of a Champions League campaign to come, Kouyate says he wants to repay the faith shown in him by Anderlecht and its supporters.
“The fans of Anderlecht asked me to stay for the club and they showed me their appreciation,” Kouyate told the African press.
“Qualifying for the Champions League was also very important for me, because without that I think I should have been in London where I had a good contact with Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.”
Kouyate came through the youth ranks at neighbouring FC Brussels and joined Anderlecht after FC Brussels failed to pay him for three months.
Anderlecht were unhappy with the attention shown towards Kouyate last month and general manager Herman van Holsbeeck issued a hands-off warning to interested parties.