FOR an Asian to earn a playing contract with a European football club on merit is quite difficult unless he is really good.
When it was announced that national youth striker Luqman Hakim Shamsudin will be joining Belgian Division One A side KV Kortrijk on a five-year contract next year, many were sceptical and felt that it has much to do with the the club’s owner being a Malaysian.
However, a source, who is involved in Luqman’s impending move to Belgium, revealed to Timesport that the deal was made possible after match videos of Luqman were sent to Kortrijk.
“We sent the first video early this year and the second after the AFF Under-18 Championship last month. Kortrijk got back to us through their Malaysian owner (Tan Sri Vincent Tan). They told us that a deal will be possible for Luqman.
“It is on merit... no way they would risk a five-year investment on someone if he is not good.
“We had also sent videos of four other national Under-18 players — Sikh Izhan Nazrel Sikh Azman, Firdaus Kaironnisam, Umar Hakeem Suhar Redzuan and Harith Haiqal Adam Afkar — to the club, but for now, they are only interested in Luqman.
“Their videos were also sent to English League Championship side, Cardiff City but clubs in the United Kingdom can’t sign Malaysian players due to our Fifa ranking.”
The source added: “It will not be easy for Luqman in Belgium. But we need Malaysian players to be competing at a higher level to make them better footballers.”
Belgium, ranked World No 1 by Fifa, are known as the country that has produced stars such as Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.
“In the past, Malaysian players who went to Europe were either not good enough or were not given enough support.
‘When Luqman arrives at the club, their coaches will assess him and from there, decide whether he should be placed in their senior, Under-23 or Under-18 teams.
“KV Kortrijk see potential in Luqman. Belgium is the gate to bigger clubs in Europe. It is where up-and-coming players try to make a name in the hope of getting scouted by top European teams.
“Of course, he is not a world-class star in the making or anywhere near there, but he has the potential to make it in Europe,” said the source.
Luqman, who helped Malaysia finish second in the AFF Under-18 Championship in Vietnam, will seal his five-year deal with KV Kortrijk when he turns 18 in March.
As for his salary package, Luqman will earn RM15,000 monthly, not including allowances, with the club also covering his meals and accommodation.
“Luqman will also be provided with a language tutor and a translator. The NFDP (National Football Development Programme and the club will decide on the candidates.
“Apart from that, arrangements will be made for Luqman’s parents to visit him.
“NFDP coaches, together with other Mokhtar Dahari Academy players, will also be at the club regularly for attachments and trials.
“So, Luqman will not feel lonely as there will always be someone there with him.
“The arrangements will be finalised after Luqman completes his SPM examinations and his assignment with the national youth side in the AFC Under-19 qualifiers (in November).