West Ham United have pulled off a major coup by signing Cheikhou Kouyate, according to Belgian football expert Bjorn de Cock.
De Cock, the co-founder of Low Countries football website BeNeFoot.net, believes Kouyate could make a major impact for the Hammers after arriving from Belgian Jupiler League champions RSC Anderlecht.
A tall, athletic and versatile performer, De Cock says the Senegal international will impress West Ham supporters with his defensive abilities, whether he plays as a centre-back or deep-lying midfielder.
"In my opinion West Ham United did well giving Kouyate a chance," wrote De Cock. "Surrounded with some good players he will give the Premier League club a lot back.
"He's a true warrior and never stops running. Once you think an opponent's player breaks through you'll see that Kouyate is capable of doing some unlikely things to stop him."
After moving to the Belgian capital from his native Dakar as a 16-year-old, Kouyate was signed by FC Brussels in January 2007, starting his career in European football as a defensive midfielder.
The following year, he moved to Anderlecht before immediately being loaned out to KV Kortrijk, and he continued his development as a midfielder with both clubs over the next two seasons.
In 2010/11, Kouyate moved back into a central defensive role for Anderlecht, remaining there until April 2014, when new manager Besnik Hasi played him as a midfielder throughout the Jupiler League Championship Play-Offs. Kouyate's form helped Anderlecht win seven of their ten Play-Off matches to win the title for the fourth straight season.
"Kouyate's most special year must have been last season," De Cock confirmed. "During the regular competition, he played as a central defender and Anderlecht struggled a lot in the middle but, after [head coach] John van den Brom's sacking and Besnik Hasi's subsequent promotion he moved the Senegalese player to Anderlecht's midfield again.
"Kouyate impressed a lot and gave more space to his very talented and young team mate Youri Tielemans. Anderlecht excelled in the Play-Offs and won the title after looking knocked out in the regular season [when they finished third].
"Anderlecht stood up again and that was mainly thanks to Cheikhou Kouyate's exceptionally high-quality performances as a defensive midfielder."
De Cock said Kouyate's challenge is now to take that same level of performance into the Barclays Premier League, where he will come up against some of the finest midfielders and attackers in world football.
"The Belgian league is sometimes a bit underestimated but the Premier League is by far a much stronger league of course," he wrote. "Kouyate will be at his best in West Ham United's midfield but it will be important to surround him with some technically gifted midfielders.
"He's a great defensive midfielder who will win a lot of duels, both in the air and on the ground, and he will recover a lot of balls for his team."
Kouyate could make his West Ham debut in the pre-season match at Sky Bet League 2 side Stevenage on Saturday 12 July. Tickets for the 3pm kick-off at the Lamex Stadium are on sale now here.