National goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan will join OH Leuven as the team’s highest-paid player, chairman of the second-tier Belgian club, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprapha, said yesterday.
The 26-year-old SCG Muangthong United captain will be the first Thai goalkeeper ever to play professional football in Europe. Aiyawatt, son of Vichai, chairman of King Power International Group which owns the Belgian team, said Kawin had set a record as the most expensive Thai international to play in Europe.
The OHL owner, however, did not disclose the fee for the five-year deal, which was expected to exceed Bt50 million.
“We have observed Kawin for quite some time and we are confident he is the right man,” said Aiyawatt, who is also the vice chairman of English Premier League team Leicester City.
Kawin’s move to OHL is seen as the first step towards having a Thai play in the EPL, which has been dream of the King Power heir.
“It all depends on him. If he shows potential, anything can happen,” Aiyawatt said. “But, when I buy a player, it is primarily aimed at making the team better,” he added.
Kawin, who has represented Thailand in 95 matches, will wear jersey No 16 for his new team by the end of January.
“I never thought it would happen. I’m so happy to be exposed to a new horizon and meet new challenges. It’s a big step in my life to pursue my dream,” Kawin said.
"I used to think Thai people and the EPL are far apart. But when a Thai owns Leicester City, it's getting closer. I believe if Thais are really determined, we achieve everything," Kawin said.
Muangthong have lost four main players this year. Earlier Chanathip Songkrasin, Teerasil Dangda and Theerathon Bunmathan have been on loan deals to J League teams.