Despite transfer rumours linking the talented Algeria playmaker with a move away, a switch is still to materialise despite a brilliant 2019/20
When Brentford lost the Championship Playoff final against Fulham in July, the consensus was that key components of the Bees’ strong 2019/20 season to depart. In fairness, maybe one in particular: Said Benrahma.
Regardless of an underwhelming performance against their West London neighbours, the Algerian was still expected to leave the second tier, as there was a feeling that he’d outgrown that division. There was disappointment over that game vs Scott Parker’s side owing to a failure to show his true quality when it mattered, despite punishing the same team a month earlier in the league.
Still, over a month after Brentford’s loss in that decider which would have seen them play in the Prem for the first time in their history, the North African remains at the Brentford Community Stadium.
Indeed, this is the opposite of what observers expected when reports suggested capital clubs Arsenal and Chelsea were waiting for the season to end before battling for the hugely talented 25-year-old.
For now, neither the Gunners nor the Blues have made a move for Benrahma, but why haven’t they or any of the top sides in the Premier League made concerted efforts to snap up the attacker?
For Arsenal, it’s fairly complicated.
Mikel Arteta’s side opted to bring in Willian on a free transfer after his Chelsea contract expired when they could have considered a long-term option in the North African.
This is understandable owing to the financial realities of most sides due to the coronavirus, which meant choosing to pay the Brazilian’s wages alone as opposed to a reported £20million transfer outlay as well as relatively high wages for the talent was a long shot.
Maybe the club also balked at the idea of a player without top flight experience in England commanding that fee. So, the North London side, like many others currently cash strapped have chosen to be thrifty in the market.
Their apparent lack of funds to spend has been evident in their pursuit of Atletico Madrid man Thomas Partey, with both sides said to be far apart in their valuation of the Ghana midfielder. Despite a fair £45million release clause in the West African’s contract, a pandemic-hit window means the Gunners haven’t struck a deal.
Curiously, there have been reports insinuating that the Gunners are looking to sell a few fringe players to fund the transfer of the all-round defensive midfielder. If this is indeed the case, a move to London Colney may be impossible for the Brentford star, this summer at least.
As for the Blues, the sheer sum already pumped in this transfer window on attacking talent means a move for Benrahma was near impossible.
Given Frank Lampard’s team already have Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi as natural widemen, as well as Timo Werner and record signing Kai Havertz as further options in the wide roles, moving for Benrahma when other areas need addressing, is going to be misguided.
So, if Arsenal and Chelsea are unlikely to happen, what about Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United?
Liverpool, despite being champions, are unexpected to make a move as it stands. Jurgen Klopp’s troops lost out on Werner to Chelsea due to financial restrictions, and are also struggling to sign Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich for similar reasons.
Therefore, unless one of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino suddenly departs for big money this summer, the world champions are unlikely to swoop for Benrahma.
For City, regardless of a willingness to spend again, already have Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and new buy Ferran Torres to feature in the wide positions. Phil Foden, like Silva, is capable of playing in a midfield three or on the flanks, so Pep Guardiola looks to have those positions filled for now.
With United, it looks viable, in theory. However, the Manchester giants have prioritised a move for Jadon Sancho this summer and may not consider the Brentford man as an alternative. Also, despite being adept as a right winger, the fact Benrahma played his best football on the left last season may put the Red Devils off in striking a deal for the playmaker.
Nevertheless, it is an option Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could consider due to how the side suffered last season because of a lack of quality replacements outside their starting line-up. With Benrahma, United will not only have someone capable of starting consistently but also one capable of making an impact off the bench.
In truth, if none of these top Premier League clubs come in for the Bees’ attacker who netted 17 goals and set up eight last season, it leaves him at a crossroads to either play another season with Brentford or join a lesser side in England’s top division.
In fairness, £20m is a steal but moving to a club with West Ham’s profile isn’t in Benrahma’s best interests.
At 25, he should be eyeing a ‘big move’. Due respect to West Ham but I reckon he can do better. https://t.co/Fak3e5yNob
— Seye Omidiora (@theReal_SeyE) September 4, 2020
Given the maverick will have one year left on his current deal in another 12 months, it could represent a win-win for player and club if their talisman stays, as he could get a dream move to one of the aforementioned sides in a year and help Thomas Frank’s side have another go at gaining promotion in 20/21.
Potentially signing for a club outside the heavyweights may be ill-advised as such a transfer will leave him on a long-term four-to-five year deal, possibly putting bigger sides off. At 25, the Algerian is prepared to take the leap to play at the highest level, and a transfer to a club outside the league’s primary challengers possibly rules this out for him.
Without question, it is surprising that Benrahma hasn’t moved despite a remarkable campaign with Brentford last term. In a pandemic-hit universe, maybe there’s some merit to having him wait another year with the Bees and then hopefully secure that big move he deserves in 12 months.