According to a report from Fabrizio Romano, Leeds United are in discussions with Angers for Azzedine Ounahi.
After signing Georginio Rutter from TSG Hoffenheim for €40m including bonuses, the Yorkshire side now look to shore up their midfield by securing the services of the Moroccan international, with whom they began talks in the past few days. But the Premier League side are not the only European team interested in the 22-year-old. Just days ago, Serie A’s Napoli made a €15m offer to the Ligue 1 club.
Having played 14 games for Angers this season, Ounahi has not been in their squad for the past four Ligue 1 fixtures. Across those 14 games, he has neither scored a goal nor provided one assist. Moreover, Angers sit squarely at the bottom of the league.
So why are these clubs looking for his signature?
The young midfielder starred in every one of Morocco’s seven games at the Qatar World Cup. As the tournament’s dark horse, Morocco beat Belgium, Spain, and Portugal in a dazzling run that saw them reach their first ever WC semi-final. In these games, many Moroccan players shone brightly, and perhaps none more so than Ounahi. Both his composure on the ball and his ability to control the game from the centre of the park helped Morocco seal wins against teams that often commanded much more possession of the ball: only against France in the semi-final did they control more of the ball than their opponent. In fact, Morocco also had the lowest average possession percentage of any side that reached the quarter finals (39%). Nonetheless, they beat Spain on penalties in the last 16, before dispatching Portugal in 90 minutes.
Leeds United have 17 points from 18 games in the Premier League this season, sitting at 14th in the table. If Ounahi is looking for European football next season, the Premier League side may lose out to the Neapolitans. Sitting ten points clear of second-place Juventus in the Italian top flight, whom they beat 5-1 last night, Napoli look certain to play in the Champions League next season. This season, they topped UCL group A above both Liverpool and Ajax, and will play Eintracht Frankfurt in the last 16 next month.
GFFN | Brendan Cox