No sooner had Leicester City let one Algerian international forward leave the club, than they’d signed another, although Rachid Ghezzal has some major shoes to fill.
The forward joins the Foxes on a four-year deal, having signed for a reported fee of £10 million.
In this feature, Goal run the rule over the Premier League’s latest African All-Star.
Name: Rachid Ghezzal
Signed for: Leicester City
Moving from: AS Monaco
Fee: £10 million
Contract length: Four years
Position: Right winger
Also wanted by
In recent weeks, the wideman had been linked with a move to Premier League side Watford as a replacement for Richarlison, who quit Vicarage Road for Everton in a £50 million deal.
Newcastle United were linked with Ghezzal before his move to Monaco last summer, while Sunderland, Everton, AS Roma, West Ham United and Southampton were previously interested in the winger during his time with Olympique Lyonnais.
The story so far
Ghezzal was born in Decines-Charpieu, 12km to the east of Lyon, and signed for OL as a youngster in OL.
He progressed through the side’s B team to make his debut for the first team in 2012, although a back injury stymied his progress during the 2013-14 campaign.
The winger steadily grew in stature after returning to full fitness, although he failed to build on his encouraging return of eight Ligue 1 goals during the 2015-16 season as a contractual dispute with the club arguably distracted him.
He signed a four-year contract with Monaco last term, joining on a free transfer, but managed just seven top-flight outings last term.
The 26-year-old represented France at youth level, but later opted to follow in the footsteps of his brother Abdelkader and represent Algeria.
He netted his first goal for Les Fennecs in an African Cup of Nations qualification victory over Ethiopia in March 2016, and was included in Algeria’s squad for the tournament.
He featured in all three of the North Africans’ matches at the 2017 Afcon in Gabon as they fell at the first hurdle.
Will he be a success?
The jury’s out on this one.
At £10 million, he doesn’t represent a massive outlay—at least not by today’s standards—although Monaco have done remarkably well after signing the player for nothing last term.
There’s quality there, certainly, with Ghezzal offering technical class, a creative spark and a superb first touch.
However, his ability to deliver an end product, once an asset, appears to be deteriorating.
At Monaco—five decisive contributions in 997 minutes was an underwhelming return—and his excellent campaign for OL in 2015-16 (eight goals, eight assists) is beginning to look like an isolated anomaly.
Personality-wise, off-field problems affected his time at Lyon, while on the pitch, he can go missing, lacks enough discipline to contribute effectively in Ligue 1 at times—let alone the Premier League—and can fade out of games.
Don’t expect him to emulate Mahrez’s output during the coming campaign.