Belgium star explains decision to reject £15m summer transfer to West Ham

Belgium star Hans Vanaken has revealed that he turned down the chance to join West Ham because he wants to win ­trophies.

Vanaken, Club Brugge’s 6ft-4in ­attacking midfielder, had the chance to follow in the Premier League footsteps of his compatriots Kevin de Bruyne, Youri ­Tielemans and Toby Alderweireld when the Hammers made a £15million offer for him last week.

But the man who has twice been voted Belgian footballer of the year had no interest in going to the ­London ­Stadium because he values medals more than money.

West Ham fans will get the chance to see what David Moyes missed out on when Belgium come to ­Wembley today.

Vanaken said: “If I had wanted to I could have signed for West Ham. I did think about their offer and I ­discussed it with a number of people around me.

“But West Ham did not feel like a logical step. I like to play for trophies, I want to win things – and I prefer to play in every game. I think I can reach a higher level staying here.”

Eighteen of the 33-man ­Belgium squad named by boss Roberto ­Martinez for the Nations League games against England and ­Iceland, and a friendly with Switzerland, have Premier League experience.

Vanaken says he still harbours big ­ambitions – ­despite signing a new five-year contract to commit his peak years to Club Brugge.

He said: “Five years is a long time. In football you don’t know what is next.

“It has been a fantastic week. Every player likes to be rewarded and I can’t say how happy I am with where I am now. I still have massive ­ambitions. I can’t wait for the coach to put my name on the teamsheet for Belgium.

“I am looking ahead. I want to star at the Euros next ­summer. The quality of our squad is huge. It is even a ­battle to get into the last 23.

“I can see players in our league who have never been called up yet who could get into the squad for the European Championships. There is so much talent.”

Vanaken, 28, who scored 15 goals for Club Brugge in the Belgium League last ­season, outlined the strengths that have made him a key player for club and country.

“I have great stamina and I like to run big distances so I can play box to box in every match,” he said.

“I also like to receive and distribute the ball in midfield. But, if needed, I can play as a No.10 behind the striker.”

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­Martinez, who has taken Belgium to the No.1 spot in the FIFA world rankings, has no doubts about Vanaken’s ability.

The former Everton and Wigan manager, who gave the midfielder his first Belgium cap two years ago, said: “Hans is a leader. He has worked ­incredibly hard to get to this stage of his career.

“He has grown so much for us since joining with the ­national team.

“And I am looking forward to so much more of him.”

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