Birmingham City’s new loan signing Kemy Agustien has set his sights on a Championship winners’ medal and doing well enough during his first season to land a permanent transfer.
The Holland Under 21, who can play anywhere across the midfield, has secured a year-long agreement from AZ Alkmaar which both he and manager Alex McLeish hope will lead to a £1.575 million switch and a place in the Premier League by the end of the coming campaign.
Birmingham will pay £590,000 for his services next term although they will have to wait for an immediate return on their investment with the 21-year-old still two weeks away from full fitness having just undergone surgery.
That will probably keep him out of the first game of the season, at home to Sheffield United on Saturday week, though he could make it back in time to feature in the Carling Cup clash with Wycombe Wanderers on August 13.
Whenever his debut comes Agustien, who spent last season on loan at Roda JC Kerk, has been brought in with the intention of adding some guile at the heart of McLeish’s team which in Lee Carsley, Damien Johnson and Mehdi Nafti is heavy on industry but a little light on inspiration.
The former Wilhelm II playmaker struggled to break into Louis van Gaal’s line up last year and is therefore motivated by individual and collective forces.
“I’d wanted to leave AZ and my agent said that Birmingham wanted me. I told him that Birmingham seems like a good club and they’ve spent most of the recent years in the Premier League, so why not?” Agustien said.
“For me it’s an opportunity to become a champion in this division and get a promotion to the Premier League. It’s good to have pressure and it’s something I like. I think it’s good for me and good for the team because it drives you on.
“My preferred position is as one of the two central midfielders but if the manager wants to put me on the right or left side it doesn’t matter as long as I play.
“I think I’m a good all round player but I want to improve because it’s never enough. I can play as either an attacking or defensive midfielder but mostly I play on my intuition and if I can do that I can do both of those things.”
Agustien might have been on board even sooner had Birmingham not discovered a problem during his medical a fortnight ago. The condition required a hernia operation from which he has now recovering. Agustien returned to light training last weekend with jogging and skipping exercises.
He met with the club physio last Thursday and finalised his move yesterday and is looking forward to working with McLeish. “I knew he was successful coach at Rangers and with the Scotland national team, so he has a lot of experience,” he said.
“It’s good for me also because I will be able to learn a lot from him and also from the experience playing football in England. I saw Lee Carsley on Tuesday and spoke to him. We played against each other when AZ played Everton in the Uefa Cup. I also watch a lot of football so I’ve seen most of the players play.”
He could be joined by Quincy Owusu-Abeyie. The former Arsenal starlet is very close to completing his move from Spartak Moscow and is similarly expected to join on loan with a view to a permanent move.
Meanwhile, Birmingham could lose out in the race to sign Ben Watson after Queens Park Rangers submitted an improved offer of around £2m for the Crystal Palace midfielder. Nottingham Forest are also considering bidding for a player who is one of the hottest properties in the Championship.
Birmingham were last week unsuccessful with an offer of £1.5m.