In Profile - Saïd Benrahma
Saïd Benrahma is a footballer fit for the grandest of stages.
Over the course of just two seasons in English football with Brentford, the 25-year-old has established himself as both an entertainer and a difference-maker at Championship level, possessing an influence on matches which West Ham United will now hope to harness in the Premier League.
Across 81 league appearances for the Bees, the Algerian has recorded 27 goals and 24 assists, helping them to a ninth-place finish in 2018/19 before shining throughout Thomas Frank’s side’s run to the 2019/20 Championship Play-Off final.
Over the last season, Benrahma was the highest-rated Championship player on respected football analytics website WhoScored.com (rated 7.51 out of 10), ranking first in total dribbles (238), dribbles per game (5.5) and shots per game (3.9), while ranking second in total successful dribbles (132), fifth in key passes (91) and joint-second in short key passes (77).
Consistency was at the heart of his performances, with Benrahma missing just three games during the Bees’ final campaign at Griffin Park, all-the-while ranking fifth in Championship goals scored (17) and joint-eighth in assists (8).
Benrahma's presence on the international stage is also burgeoning; having debuted for Algeria as a 20-year-old against Senegal in October 2015, his Brentford form led to him being named in the squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, only to miss out through injury. He has since totaled five caps, most recently against Mexico in a friendly in the Netherlands on Tuesday.
The winger has also received the accolades his impressive performances warranted – the EFL Championship Player of the Month award for July, the Brentford Supporters’ Player of the Year, and an inclusion in the Championship PFA Team of the Year for 2019/20.
He also has a penchant for the spectacular, with WhoScored listing one of his strengths as ‘Likes to shoot from distance’ – a sentiment attested to by Fulham, whom the Algerian scored an EFL Cup Goal of the Round against: a fine turn and strike in Brentford’s fourth-round victory last month.
The numbers paint a picture of a man integral to the Championship’s highest-scoring outfit last season; during his time at Brentford, Benrahma supplied a goal or assist on average every 119 minutes.
It is the kind of form which forces the very top clubs to sit up and take notice.
And with West Ham manager David Moyes’ track record of bringing through talent from the Football League, it is also the kind of form seemingly certain to lend even greater potency to an already-firing Claret and Blue side.
While it is out wide on the left where Benrahma has come by most of his plaudits at Brentford, the naturally right-footed attacker is capable of playing across the forward line.
Having previously enjoyed loan spells at Ligue 1 Angers and Ligue 2 sides Gazelec Ajaccio and Chateauroux, excelling for the latter in 2017/18, Benrahma was assigned the No10 shirt upon signing from Ligue 1 side Nice in July 2018.
Wherever he plays, Benrahma’s spatial awareness, quick feet and eye for a killer ball proved influential, with the Algerian able to claim involvement in 62% of his side’s moves which ended in a successful shot, according to analytics website Smarter Scout.
Even more remarkably, the Algerian was involved in 86% of the moves which led to Brentford’s 73 goals in the 2018/19 season, including nine non-penalty goals of his own.
With Pablo Fornals, Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen having started each of the Irons’ opening four Premier League games of the season, such versatility means manager Moyes has an array of interchangeable and instinctively creative options at his disposal.
When you consider that West Ham United have scored 22 times in their last eleven Premier League outings alone - or 31 in their last 14 games, including Carabao Cup fixtures - the addition of Benrahma's mercurial talents presents a very exciting prospect for West Ham fans indeed.