Bilal El Khannous’ breakthrough at Genk has seen him draw attention from Manchester City and a few other clubs.

After coming up through the Belgian club’s academy, the 18-year-old was promoted to their first team towards the end of last season. The midfielder has been a regular for Genk and has made 22 appearances in all competitions this season.

El Khannous is one of the rising stars in Belgium, which has seen both Manchester City and Napoli send their scouts to follow him closely. This was reported by Het Laatste Nieuws earlier this month.

HLN sat down for a detailed interview with the Morocco international’s friends, Adame Lakhouit and Yassin Hirji. After discussing El Khannous’ childhood and his at Genk, his two friends were asked to give their take on Manchester City and Napoli following him.

“It’s crazy for us to read, but with Bilal it slips right off. A transfer is not his biggest concern. He just wants to perform on the field and will see after the season what the best step is,” Hirji said.

On the same topic, Lakhouit explained: “I didn’t think it was illogical that those teams were mentioned. It’s not new that big teams want him. Ajax, for example, never left.

“A few years ago, he could already go there and then I told him: ‘Bilal, come on, Ajax is at your door. Just respond.’ He wanted to stay closer to his family. Then he played against them in the preparation. He was very casual beforehand. ‘I don’t feel like it.’ After two minutes he scored from his own half. Well, quite logical that Ajax continues to follow him, I thought at the time.”

Club Brugge earned €32m from Charles de Ketelaere’s sale to AC Milan last summer and Genk are aiming to collect more than that from their golden boy’s future sale. Lakhouit was also asked about the Jupiler Pro League side’s potential fee demands for El Khannous.

“Next level. You always follow those transfer rumours and now they are about your friend. But Genk know what they’re doing. If they put that pressure on him, it’s because Bilal can handle it,” Lakhouit stressed.