AGONA Profile: Youssef El-Arabi, the prolific Moroccan hitman aiming to impress in Piraeus
Olympiacos increased their attacking options with the signing of Moroccan international striker Youssef El-Arabi. In connection with the transfer, the AGONA Profile takes a closer look at his career.
Many fans raised eyebrows when Olympiacos unveiled the signing. With all due respect to El-Arabi, the ageing Moroccan striker isn’t exactly a household name. However, when glancing at his impressive scoring statistics, you can see why Olympiacos made a move for El-Arabi, especially given that Ahmed Hassan won’t be returning to Piraeus for the upcoming season.
El-Arabi, 32, boasts a strong scoring record across the board. During the past three seasons, El-Arabi has been in incredible form for Al-Duhail in Qatar, registering a huge 74 league goals in just 59 matches. Any striker in the world would be proud of that return.
BREAKTHROUGH WITH HOMETOWN CLUB CAEN
Although El-Arabi represents Morocco on the international stage, the striker was born in Caen, France, in a Moroccan family. El-Arabi was never summoned to any French national teams in his early playing days and, in 2010, he made his debut for the Morocco seniors. El-Arabi has subsequently scored 15 goals in 41 appearances for his country.
As a teenager, El-Arabi played in both the Caen and Mondeville academies in France, before he switched back to the former in 2007 and stayed there for the next four years. His hero when becoming heavily involved in football was Ronaldinho.
El-Arabi became a first-team regular for Caen in the 2009/2010 campaign. In that particular season, he began to catch the eye with his productive displays, striking 11 goals and dishing out eight assists in 34 Ligue 2 matches.
TRANSFER TO AL-HILAL
He continued his rapid progression in the 2010/2011 season. Having already helped Caen return to Ligue 1, El-Arabi subsequently starred for the club in the top tier, notching 17 goals.
Convinced by his abilities, Al-Hilal from Saudi Arabia decided to splash the cash on El-Arabi in the summer of 2011, paying 7.5 million euros to take him to the Middle East.
El-Arabi was too hot to handle for the majority of Saudi defences. In the ensuing season, the forward grabbed 12 goals in 21 Saudi Professional League games, while also scoring four in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for Al-Hilal supporters, that proved to be El-Arabi’s only season in Saudi Arabia, as he returned to Europe with Granada CF in July 2012. Granada paid Al-Hilal five million to acquire his services.
FOUR CONSISTENT SEASONS WITH GRANADA
It took a while for El-Arabi to fully find his feet in Spain. In his first season in La Liga, El-Arabi scored eight goals in 31 games for Granada, but in the following year, he really began to hit the ground running with 12 markers in the domestic championship.
El-Arabi was consistent over the entire course of his four seasons in La Liga. His best season in Spain was the 2015/2016 campaign, as with Granada finishing in 16th position, he scored 15 league goals. That total included a hat trick in a 5:1 thrashing of Levante and a goal in a 1:2 loss to Real Madrid.
AL-DUHAIL COME CALLING
That was El-Arabi’s final Spanish season. In July of 2016, El-Arabi made the decision to travel Far East again, penning a contract with Al-Duhail of the Qatar Stars League.
He was simply unstoppable in Qatar. Overall, El-Arabi scored a grand total of 74 goals in his three Qatari seasons, grabbing 24 in each of his two first years before tallying 26 in 2018/2019. A remarkable effort, even if the Stars League isn’t elite.
Even though he is beginning to age, El-Arabi is as sharp as ever when it comes to scoring goals, something which the statistics clearly show. This could turn out to be one of the most shrewd, underrated deals to be made in this transfer window by Olympiacos.