Rennes announced on its official website on Wednesday that Portuguese midfielder Xeka has joined the club as a free agent upon his contract expiry with Lille.
According to Rennes’ official statement, Xeka signed a short-term contract with the club for two years which runs until the summer of 2024.
Starting a career which is full of challenges
The 27-year-old Xeka spent time in the youth academies of Pacos Ferreira, Gondomar and Valencia during his childhood. Xeka’s career officially started at Sporting Clube de Braga in 2013. However, he has not had many chances to play in the team, so he chose to join Lille on loan in 2017.
Upon arriving in Lille, Xeka immediately played a huge role in pairing up with compatriot Ronny Lopes. After his ownership was bought out in the summer of 2017, Xeka was once loaned to Dijon, during which he successfully helped the club avoid relegation. After returning to Les Dogue, with Christoph Galtier as head coach, Xeka officially became Lille’s key player in the midfield, alongside Boubakary Soumaré, Renato Sanches and Benjamin André, the four men formed a formidable partnership which made many frightened.
In the 2020/21 season, Xeka led Lille to the Ligue 1 title with superb offensive and defensive display, breaking the tradition of Paris Saint-Germain’s monopoly of league titles. After that, in 2021, he successfully led the club to another shock defeat over Les Parisiens to capture the Trophée des Champions.
After Galtier and Director of Football Luís Campos left the club last season, Lille’s performances declined so badly that they were unable to maintain their earlier form as dark horse and could only finished 10th after seeing their star players being poached away one after the other.
Unmoved by foreign interests
Last week, British online outlet 90Min claimed that Arsenal intends to sign Xeka to help them alleviate their midfield injury crisis problem. The report claimed the Gunners see Xeka as a player who can help the club solve problems in the short term, and his agent has not ruled out the possibility of the Portuguese player moving to the Premier League.
However, after he joined Rennes, renowned Italian transfer journalist, Fabrizio Romano clarified that Xeka and his camp had basically never received any offer from Arsenal at all. Both sides have also made it clear that they are more willing to stay in Ligue 1, and the player hope to join a club that regards him as the key player, as such Xeka eventually opted to sign for Les Rouge et Noir.
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