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£17m player West Ham United almost signed is now causing a huge shock in the Champions League
Photo by Joris Verwijst/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images

£17m player West Ham United almost signed is now causing a huge shock in the Champions League

West Ham United summer transfer target Hans Vanaken has enjoyed a perfect start to the Champions League this season.

The 30-year-old Belgian international has been started all three games in the group stages for Club Brugge.

Vanaken’s side were considered one of the underdogs in a group containing Bayer Leverkusen, FC Porto and Atletico Madrid.

However, Club Brugge have been the surprise package in this season’s competition so far.

Vanaken has captained his side to three consecutive victories without conceding a goal.

Photo by Joris Verwijst/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images

A win next week against Atletico will guarantee their place in the last 16, almost certainly as group winners.

It’s a phenomenal achievement and Vanaken has been key to their Champions League campaign up to this point.

He was involved in the build-up to Brugge’s first goal, flicking a header into the path of Ferran Jutgla who got the assist with a low cross.

Although Vanaken is typically a goal scoring central midfielder, he’s yet to find the back of the net in Europe this season.

However, he’s already scored twice in the Belgian Pro League and should be Roberto Martinez’s squad for the World Cup.

Vanaken helping Brugge cause huge Champions League shock

Vanaken could have battling it out in the Europa Conference League rather than the Champions League this season.

West Ham had a bid for Vanaken rejected towards the end of the summer window, according to Voetbal Belgie.

David Moyes’ side refused to match Club Brugge’s £17m valuation for the 30-year-old.

The goal scoring midfielder could have offered a very different option Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek.

Photo by Joris Verwijst/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Vanaken offers the height and physicality of Soucek while also being prolific in front of goal.

Rice has since said that he tells Soucek to get in the box more during matches, something he wouldn’t have to tell the Belgian.

Vanaken’s Champions League journey is almost certainly set to continue into 2023.

It will be interesting to see if West Ham consider another bid for the 30-year-old then.

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