On Wednesday night Youssef En-Nesyri came off the bench in the UEFA Champions League for Spanish La Liga side Sevilla and scored a brace to help the club make a comeback against Krasnodar in the UEFA Champions League.
Krasnodar was in dreamland leading the current Europa League champions 2-0 in their own backyard before Ivan Rakitic pulled one back for the host just before halftime at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium.
In the second half coach Ruben Lupetegui decided to bring in the Algerian forward who scored two goals to secure a 3-2 victory and avoid a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Champions League debutants.
El-Nesyri has had a quite a journey as he rose into prominence in Europe. He started his career in his native Morocco with the Mohammed VI Football Academy before being scouted by Malaga back in 2015.
Only 18 at the time, the striker started with Malaga’s B team while they played in the Spanish Tercera Division before rising up the ranks to make his Malaga senior debut in the 2016/17 season. In a period of two seasons the 23-year-old played 38 league games registering 5 goals to his name in the colours of Malaga.
After Malaga was relegated from Spain’s elite division a host of La Liga teams were interested in the services of the tall striker, but Leganes managed to secure his signature on a five-year-deal. The Moroccan international played 49 league games for Leganes scoring 13 times in the 18 months he spent there before being lured to join a Sevilla project that was being rebuilt after the club had sold most of their senior strikers like Javier Hernandez and Moanes Dabour.
Sevilla went on to win the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League with the former Leganes striker playing a role in the triumph. He has played 22 La Liga games so far for ‘Los Palanganas’ and has scored 5 goals so far. In the 2020/21 season he has featured in 9 games in all competitions scoring 4 goals.
This could be his best season by far with Lopetegui having seemingly figured the best way to utilize him upfront.
At international level the attacker has featured 33 times for Morocco at senior level scoring 10 times for his country, this includes two goals at the 2019 AFCON held in Egypt where Morocco got eliminated in the last 16 round of the competition. It is amazing that at the tender age of 23 the striker is a regular for his country and closing in on having 40 caps already.
This season En-Nesyri is certainly one of the African players to watch in La Liga alongside the likes of Samuel Chukwueze and Geoffrey Kondogbia.
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By Prince Sobayeni