Leeds United have signed former Ajax and Juventus midfielder Ouasim Bouy on a four-year contract - and immediately loaned him to Spanish second division club Cultural Leonesa.
The 24-year-old, who was once touted as a leading European prospect, has committed his future to United until 2021 but is heading for a season-long spell in Spain as Leeds attempt to tap into the potential he showed in his younger years.
Bouy’s reputation and talent earned him a move from Ajax’s academy to Juventus in 2012 but much of his time in Turin was spent on loan elsewhere and he was available on a free transfer this summer after reaching the end of his Juve deal.
Leeds saw Bouy as a worthwhile investment but did not expect him to feature heavily in the Championship this season with their squad already awash with midfielders.
Bouy, who can also play at centre-back, will spend the next 12 months at Cultural Leonesa following recent efforts to establish a working relationship between the Spanish side and Leeds.
Leonesa are controlled by Qatar’s Aspire Academy which in turn is run by United board member Ivan Bravo.
Leeds, under owner Andrea Radrizzani, want to use connections with foreign clubs as a means of blooding some of their development or emerging players.
Speaking about the tie-up with Leonesa on BBC Leeds last night, United managing director Angus Kinnear said: “The overall strategy is that as well as signing players who can have an impact next season, we need to develop players for the long term.
“The involves significant investment in our academy but as the transfer market becomes more international it’s also important to create pathways for people from other markets to be able to play for Leeds and ultimately play in the first team.
“Some of the relationships we’re looking at with international academies and other teams are to create those pathways so we can secure talent, develop it and add talent to the first team.
“Some players need more development time and that might be able to be given to them in the Under-23s at Leeds, but it might also be better that they play competitive football elsewhere in Europe.”
Bouy, a Holland youth international, completed no fewer than six loans during his time at Juventus, including stays with Brescia, Hamburg and Panathinaikos. He made just one first team appearance for Juventus in 2013.
Meanwhile, former Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci - released from Elland Road last month - has joined Italian club Palermo on a free transfer.