France football have revealed their top 10 Maghreb nominees for their player of the year award for the region. The list includes representation from Chelsea and Manchester City as well as a former Arsenal youth talent.
10 nominees for Maghreb player of the year
France football has recently revealed the top 10 nominees for their Maghreb player of the year award. The Maghreb is an area spanning the northwest part of Africa and therefore includes nations such as Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Of the nominees, Chelsea and Manchester City are represented in addition to a former Arsenal midfielder. Here is the list:
Hakim Ziyech: Morocco – Chelsea
Ziyech made the high-profile move from Ajax to Chelsea in the summer after an impressive stint with the well-known Dutch side. He was instrumental in the 2018/19 campaign for a Champions League final place in which Ajax were unlucky to lose in the final seconds against Spurs in the semi-final. Ziyech continued his creative form in the following season ending on 6 goals and 13 assists before moving to London.
This season, injury has been a problem for the Moroccan but he has still been influential in nearly all of his appearances for Chelsea this season and has so far got 1 goal and 3 assists in just 7 showings.
Ismaël Bennacer: Algeria – Milan
Since leaving Arsenal for Empoli, Ismail Bennacer has shown what a mistake it was for the Gunners to let him leave. The Algerian impressed heavily during his time at the Tuscan club, so much so that AC Milan soon moved for his signature. Despite Arsenal having the option sign the promising youngster with a first refusal the North London side chose not to and Bennacer arrived at Milan with great expectation.
He has since gone on to become an integral part of the Milan side, playing at the base of their midfield. His technical ability and great positional discipline has led him to this year’s nomination.
Bono: Morocco – Sevilla FC
The Moroccan goalkeeper has been an absolute revelation at Sevilla. After the departure of highly rated goalkeeper Sergio Rico, Bono has stepped up to the position with great professionality and consistency. Interestingly, Bono was born in Montreal, Canada but moved to Morocco before his 8th birthday.
There he continued his footballing development which he had begun at Montreal Impact and was soon spotted by recruitment staff of Atletico Madrid. Bono impressed after leaving the Madrid-based club in Girona. After signing for Sevilla, initially on loan, the Moroccan keeper established himself as Julen Lopetegui’s number one.
The reason for his nomination has been his excellent form which has seen him concede just 10 goals from 16 games and keep a clean sheet on 8 separate occasions this season.
Bono stands tall to deny Puertas! 👏
Still no goals as Sevilla’s 10-men hold firm 💪 pic.twitter.com/RD1HGZSwBQ
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) October 17, 2020
Ali Maaloul: Tunisia – Al-Ahly
Ali Maâloul will certainly be one of the lesser known names on the list but not one to be underestimated in the running for the award. The Tunisian left-back is an interesting player who, despite his senior age of 30, is a prolific goalscorer and assist maker in what is typically a more defensive position.
So far this season, after just three games in the Egyptian Premier League, the “defender” has one goal and four assists. This adds on to his 5 goals and six assists from the previous campaign where he played just 23 games.
Said Benrahma: Algeria – West Ham
One of the most talked about players of the summer. The expected departure from Brentford was eventually signed off as Said Benrahma joined David Moyes at West Ham.
The Algerian winger was a prolific goalscorer and creator for the Bees. He became one of the Championship’s best players and finished last season on 17 goals and 9 assists. He has so far failed to establish himself in Moyes’ Hammers side but much is expected of the 25-year-old as the Algerian gets more minutes and also progresses further in the national side.
Sofiyane Amrabat: Morocco – Fiorentina
Brother to the former Watford winger Nordin, 9 years younger and flourishing in Serie A is Sofiyane Amrabat. The Moroccan international became an integral part of the Hellas Verona midfield and his fantastic performances for the club earned him a high-profile move to Fiorentina in the last transfer window.
A central midfielder with great physical presence but also technical ability on the ball has led him to achieve consistency and quality in the Italian top tier. A versatile player that can play in a central part of the midfield or deeper as a possible sweeper and cover to the back line, Amrabat has become a mainstay in the La Viola ranks.
Ramy Bensebaini: Algeria – Borussia Monchengladbach
A forward-thinking full-back who has become an integral figure in Marco Rose’s Borussia Monchengladbach side. The 25-year-old Algerian international finished last season on 5 goals and 4 assists despite playing just 19 games in the Bundesliga.
Although the goals are yet to flow in the league this season, Bensebaini has scored a couple of important goals for Gladbach in the Champions League. The full-back scored in the 2-2 draw with Inter Milan and the 6-0 win against Shakhtar Donetsk. The goals helped the club push forward for promotion from the group into the Champions League knockout stages along with Real Madrid in a very difficult group stage selection.
Achraf Hakimi: Morocco – Inter
Achraf Hakimi’s move to Inter Milan was one of the genuinely good pieces of business that the Italian side has done over the course of a rocky few years of purchases. Having been sent on loan to Borussia Dortmund for two years by Real Madrid, the Spanish capital club decided that they had enough quality in Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola that they did not need to keep hold of Hakimi and decided to sell him for a significant fee.
During his final year in the Bundesliga, Hakimi transitioned from a full back into more of an attacking wing back and eventually playing, at times, as a right winger. This meant he fit perfectly into the back 3-4-1-2 system which Antonio Conte plays and therefore takes up the position as a right wing back/right winger on the right hand side of the Inter Milan selection.
In 14 Serie A matches, the Moroccan has four goals and four assists continuing his fine goalscoring and creative form from his time in Germany.
Riyad Mahrez: Algeria – Manchester City
Arguably the most well-known name on the list having played in the Premier League for many seasons now for both Manchester City and previously Leicester City. Riyad Mahrez is looked upon as one of the most astute signings of a Premier League club that the the division has ever seen.
Having won the league with the miraculous Leicester side in 2016, the Algerian international moved to Man City and continued his domination as a tricky right winger. Mahrez finished the previous campaign with 11 goals and 12 assists for Pep Guardiola’s side and has netted on four occasions in the league already this season. Possibly the favourite for the award, Mahrez has become a player many left backs in the Premier League are fearful of facing.
Ellyes Skhiri: Tunisia – Cologne
Moving from one of the most well-known on the list to one of the least. Ellyes Skhiri moved to the Bundesliga with Cologne after coming through the youth ranks at French side Montpellier.
A defensive midfielder who likes to cover plenty of ground, Skhiri has scored three times this season already including a brace in a 2-1 away victory at Borussia Dortmund. Despite playing in one of the more struggling sides of the Bundesliga, the Tunisian international is certainly one of the league’s standout performers for their side’s. Now 25, and approaching his prime, it is expected that a big move for the midfielder could soon be on the horizon if his performances in Germany continue as such.
Der doppelte Dortmund-Schreck: Zwei Tore nach einer Ecke machen Ellyes #Skhiri zum Helden beim @fckoeln und bringen den Tunesier völlig verdient ins #FIFA21–#FUT–#TOTW von @eafussball. Herzlichen Glückwunsch! 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/AuEtkTdmom
— BUNDESLIGA (@Bundesliga_DE) December 3, 2020
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