Joseph Okumu received plenty of offers in the summer transfer window but opted for the French league over a number of reasons as explained by his agent Omar Banza.
Stade de Reims defender Joseph Okumu felt the French league was the best place for him to continue his development after stints in Sweden and Belgium.
Okumu made the switch to Ligue 1 side in the summer transfer window after two years at Belgian top-flight club KAA Gent in a deal worth €12 million, making him the second Kenyan to feature in the French league after Dennis Oliech.
The player was rumoured to have attracted interest from a host of top European sides with Premier League giants Arsenal and Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund among those mentioned but he opted for a switch to France instead.
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“His interest [from Reims] was discussed since 2022,” Okumu’s agent Omar Banza told Pulse Sports.
“We try to get the best project for our client, development in every stage is crucial in his career.
“He is a top athlete he can compete in any level. Bids came from everywhere but as I said before, the player project is important to us so we wanted to put more emphasis on that.”
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Okumu has become a key member of Will Still’s side since moving to France, starting nine of the 10 matches he has been available for, with his impressive displays earning him a place in the Ligue 1 team of the month for October.
With his development, it feels like it is only a matter of time before he moves to a bigger team.
“Playing in France is a good step forward. Though not the destination yet, we are still dreaming,” added Banza.
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Banza also expressed his delight at having played a part in the smooth negotiations for the deal that lasted less than a week between Gent and Reims.
“We have done a lot of projects. To us, it was a transfer like any of the 24 that we did this summer. Everything was smooth but for me personally as a Kenyan, it was a good step forward and I believe for him as well,” he said.
Banza and Okumu linked up when the former Chemelil Sugar defender moved to Free State Stars in South Africa in 2016. After a short stint, he signed for AFC Ann Arbor in the US before moving to Utah-based Real Monarchs.
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Okumu moved to Europe in 2019, joining Swedish top-flight club IF Elfsborg, and after two impressive years, he switched to Gent in June 2021 in a deal worth €3.5 million.