Olunga: Why I turned down offers from Europe to sign for Al Duhail SC

Michael Olunga of Kenya during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals KenyaBackpagePix.

Kenya striker Michael Olunga has revealed the reason he turned down offers from Italy and Spain to sign for Al Duhail SC in Qatar.

After a stellar display in the Japanese J1-League with Kashiwa Reysol, and also having featured in Spain for FC Girona on loan, the towering Harambee Star shocked many when he decided against moving to Europe to pen a four-year contract with the Qatari Super League side in January 2021.

Many of his fans back home had anticipated him to make a move to Europe and his move to Duhail was interpreted negatively.

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Olunga has come out to clarify he had offers from top clubs in Italy and Spain but he could not sign the deals because the teams he was negotiating with at that time were not promising him playing time which was his main concern.

“I had several offers before going to Qatar, from La Liga and Italian leagues but as a player, I wanted to move to a place where I can play regularly and a good team which plays top football and not a team fighting relegation,” Olunga told Arocho Live on Sunday.

“I am a competitive player, I had several offers on the table and I analysed them, I can even show you [some of the offers are in my email even now], I also check my style of play if it can fit any team before I sign for them.

“I can also not rule money factor in my transfer, of course, you check what the team is offering, we are footballers and we have a future to look after, we have live’s to live, we have seen many players come out of football and they start to struggle financially.

“We must have a balance of both, money and where to play, so myself I want to thank God for what he has given me and I am looking forward to the new season.”

On his switch to Japan from Girona, Olunga said: “Of course everyone loves money, not Olunga alone, it is a factor when you make transfer moves [that you sign a good deal with good money], but the key thing is I moved to Kashiwa [Reysol] because I felt it was a good opportunity to get playing time,”

“At Girona, I was restricted to a few matches and you know as a player, we all fight to play and represent our country outside there, so when Resyol came for my services, my first question to them was if I will be able to play 75 percent of their matches.

“It was part of my contract that we signed with them, it was a must they give 75 percent of the matches, I asked them how sure were they I will play, because I was not ready to warm the bench because I knew if I play there regularly, then everyone will notice my talent.

“When I joined, I stayed there for two seasons, and I really enjoyed my stay there, I became the first African to win J1-League MVP, also set a record of the most scored goals in one season for Reysol, it shows you I left a mark before I left there, I made Kenya’s name, most of them know Kenya as an athletics nation but I proved them.”

Olunga is currently in Kenya on holiday.

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