Belgium's Player of the Year footballer Mbark Boussoufa has signed a four-year contract with Belgian first division club Anderlecht in what is believed to be a record-breaking transfer deal in the country.
The transfer fee was not disclosed, but it is believed to be 3.5 million euros, a record in Belgian football, Belgian news service VRTnieuws reported Wednesday.
Boussoufa, 21, said Tuesday it was a "hard decision" to leave AA Gent after serving two years in the first division club, but he hoped to "move a step higher" with the transfer to Belgian champions Anderlecht.
The attacking midfielder made a big impression in the Belgian top flight last season, sweeping the end-of-season awards in the Belgian first division, including the Player and the Young Player of the Year awards.
Boussoufa has both the Moroccan and Dutch nationality. Last month, he preferred the Moroccan national team over the Dutch squad as he thought it would improve his chances to play in the German World Cup.
AA Gent, which took fourth place in the league, wanted to keep their playmaker and precision passer at all cost. But the former Chelsea player eventually decided to go to Anderlecht.
"This was really a very difficult decision to take," Boussoufa soothed the AA Gent fans.
"But I had always said that AA Gent was an intermediate stage," he said. "I want to climb up the ladder and Anderlecht offered me a nice chance. They are certain of playing the Champions League next season."
At the official presentation on Tuesday, Boussoufa was handed shirt number 11.
Boussoufa started his career with Ajax youth team, and then moved to Chelsea where he played for the youth teams and reserves before he signed for Gent two years ago.