News Singapore Premier League • February 8, 2022
Belgian attacker Maxime Lestienne signs for Lion City Sailors
Maxime Lestienne in action for Standard Liege (Photo: Standard Liege)
8 FEBRUARY 2022 – Former Belgium youth international Maxime Lestienne has joined reigning AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions Lion City Sailors.
The 29-year-old winger arrives on a free transfer and completes the Sailors’ foreign player quota for the 2022 season, with Pedro Henrique and Kim Shin-wook having already joined Diego Lopes. Set to become the first Belgian to play in SPL history, Lestienne has signed a two-year contract and completed the move ahead of the closure of the transfer window in Europe on 31 January.
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Lestienne last played for Belgian top-flight side Standard Liege, whom he joined in July 2018. His last appearance for Standard was on 26 January of this year and he departs Liege having scored 22 times and made 13 assists in 115 appearances across all competitions. According to the Sailors, he is expected to arrive in Singapore prior to the 2022 AIA Community Shield, which takes place on 19 February.
He told the club: “The Sailors’ vision of building a strong football culture in a country like Singapore is a project that really excites me. The club’s commitment to youth development and improving football capabilities only adds to the allure of its drive for success on the pitch. I can’t wait to get started with the Sailors, especially as the club competes for the first time in Asia’s Champions League (ACL).”
The skilful attacker, who started his career at hometown side Royal Excelsior Mouscron, has represented Belgium at every international age group from the Under-15s through to the Under-21s. Lestienne was called up to the senior squad in 2013 and named on the bench for a friendly against the United States; he would not get his second call-up until 2019, when he was included on two occasions but never made it to a match-day squad.
Maxime Lestienne during his time with Rubin Kazan (Photo: Soccer.ru)
At club level, Lestienne has played in the UEFA Champions League, having been part of the PSV Eindhoven squad that exited in the Round of 16 during the 2015/16 season, scoring twice and making two assists then. He made 29 appearances and scored six goals in the UEFA Europa League with Standard and Club Brugge.
Lestienne made his professional debut in 2008 with Mouscron and left after they went bankrupt in 2009. Signed by Brugge on a free transfer, he scored 39 goals and recorded 35 assists in 157 matches from 2009 to 2014. He was then signed by Qatari side Al-Arabi but never played a game for them as he was loaned out to Genoa in Italy and PSV in the Netherlands in each of the next two seasons, where he would win the 2015/16 Dutch league title with the latter. A move to Russia’s Rubin Kazan occured in mid-2016, where Lestienne stayed until January 2018 before he joined Spanish top-tier side Malaga, only to head back to Belgium with Standard six months later.
“Maxime will give us added quality in the attacking third with his technical ability, and he will help take us to the next level as we move towards being competitive against the best clubs in Asia at the ACL,” Sailors Head Coach Kim Do-hoon said.