After nearly six years at St. Andrews, Maikel Kieftenbeld has left Birmingham City to join league rivals Millwall.
The Dutchman joined the Blues in 2015 from Groningen for around 250,000 euros, and over the years became a fan favourite for the blue half of the second city due to his aggression, tough tackling and passion on the pitch.
Kieftenbeld was a regular in his first four seasons for the Blues, making 152 league appearances over that time period, but a severe knee injury picked up in April 2019 put him on the sidelines for 10 months.
The 30-year-old hasn’t been a regular since then, making mostly substitute appearances, but has had a bit of a spell in Aitor Karanka’s line-up recently having started seven of Birmingham’s last 10 league games.
But his long-term future now belongs in the capital, as the Lions have swooped to sign Kieftenbeld on an 18-month deal, and he will add some steel to Gary Rowett’s midfield.
Quiz: The top 16 Birmingham City record player departures – Which club did they join though?
It’s not the first time that the former Blues boss has tried to take the ball-winning Dutchman to another club, with his Derby County side at the time having agreed to sign Kieftenbeld in 2017, but it did not go through in time before the transfer deadline.
Now though Rowett is finally reunited with Kieftenbeld, and it’s a move that Birmingham fans are reacting to with despair.
Before the complain train moves in, let's not forget we're rebuilding, that unfortunately means some players will leave. Keift is better suited to Millwall anyway
— Honest Bluenose (@bh_1875) January 25, 2021
Shocking for the board once again! His played so well in the past 5-6 games and you let him go! What next?
— I/-N 🤟🏻 (@ianwillis_86) January 25, 2021
That’s awful, selling him to a league rival too and likely not bringing anyone in…..shocking decision and if this means Clayton starts now it gets even worse
— Joe Lynch (@Whispyjoe) January 25, 2021
— Benny (@BennGx) January 25, 2021
Top work lads, give away one of our best players this season for nothing.
— Liam 💙 (@Liam3617) January 25, 2021
Terrible decision one of our better players this season fully deserved his contract extended but no we sign Clayton on a 2 year deal who’s 2 years older and couldn’t lace kiefts boots .. not to mention being sold to a relegation rival for absolute pennies clubs pathetic 🙃🙃🙃
— Shiels. (@ShielsOfficial) January 25, 2021
Deserve to be relegated for this decision
— Dan (@dchatters_) January 25, 2021
This hurts! Only player who gives 110% every game, and we get rid of him… weird decision!
Good luck at the 'Wall, Kieft! That club will suit him down to the ground!
— 𝐑𝐈𝐂𝐇𝐈𝐄 𝐋𝐔𝐌 (@ImportantRichie) January 25, 2021
Absolute joke. Ripping the soul out of our club. Assume we will get another Spaniard that can’t settle, adapt or perform? Let’s just hope his paperwork falls through and he comes back – again – to save us – again.
— Ian Smith (@ESmithy84) January 25, 2021
The only player in that plays like he cares, not to mention he’s been the best player over the last 2 months
— Jamie (@JamieHill1875) January 25, 2021
Thank you for the service Maikel, you were one of the most consistent players over the past few seasons… I can understand your decision to go… can't understand why the club would let you go at this point! However remember once a blue, always a blue #kro
— jassyblue80 (@jassyblue80) January 25, 2021
So disappointed to have this confirmed. Dutch Mike gave his all every time he played. Not surprised he's reunited with Gary Rowett, who wanted Kieft when he was managing Derby County. Farewell Maikel, thanks for the memories #KRO #gutted 💙
— Carol S 💙 #NHSBlueheart 💚🚑 (@Sandycal999) January 25, 2021
— Tro (@T10WS) January 25, 2021