Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020
We have already covered top 10 best Arab football players of all time with players like Mohamed Salah who are and deserve to be on both lists - we mean the list of Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020 and Top 10 Best Arab Football Players of All Time.
The rest of the list, however, comprises of Arab players who have shined in major European leagues recently or at least in the recent decade with some of them even having made a difference for the team they are playing for; players who could be considered as the biggest Arab football stars of 2020.
Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020 Who Play in Major European Leagues
Here comes a list of the greatest Arab football players of 2020. Mohamad Salah of Liverpool is, as expected, at the top of the list, followed by Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City and Achraf Hakimi of Inter Milan.
But don’t you think these are the only best Arab football players of 2020 who play in the Premier League. There are more! Read on to know!
Nicknamed the Egyptian Messi, Mohamed Salah is by far the best Arab player who has ever played in the Premier League and with no doubt, one of the biggest Arab football stars of 2020.
He’s a prolific goalscorer who has shined with Liverpool, although he set good records also with Roma in 2016-17 season: 15 goals in his 31 appearances for them which translates to almost one goal in every two appearances.
However, the 28-year-old Egyptian forward has set better records with Liverpool: 73 goals in 104 appearances so far that means a little more than 1.5 goals in every appearance.
Salah is actually a product of Al Mokawloon, and has played for the Egyptian club more than any other club till now - from 2006 to 2012 (6 years), 4 years as a youth player and 2 years as a senior player.
Salah has also set a number of records at Liverpool which may be interesting for you to know.
Some of these records include the fastest player to have scored 50 goals for Liverpool (only in 65 games in 2018-19 season), the most goals scored in the first 100 appearances for Liverpool in the English club’s history (69 goals), and most Liverpool Player of the Month awards in a single season (7 awards in 2017-18 season). Is he the greatest Egyptian player ever in the Premier League and Liverpool history? Maybe!
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One of the best on the list Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020, Riyad Karim Mahrez, simply known as Riyad Mahrez, is not only one of the greatest Arab footballers of 2020, but also one of the greatest footballers in Africa and his own country, Algeria, as he was named Algerian Footballer of the Year in two consecutive years, namely 2015 and 2016, and CAF African Footballer of the Year in 2016.
Mahrez have been playing in the Premier League since 2014. He has served Leicester City for four years from 2014 to 2018 scoring 42 goals in his 158 appearances for them - a little bit more than one goal in every three appearances - despite being a winger.
The 29-year-old Arab footballer is one of those footballers who have grown up with football playing the game as a child on streets.
In an interview with Guardian, Mahrez once said he never thought he would play in England when Leicester City called for him, and four years later in 2018, he was not only still in the English top-tier league but also became one of the most expensive players in the history of football - actually number 30 on the list of 50 most expensive footballers ever - when he moved to Manchester City for a reported transfer fee of €67.8 million.
Recently joined Inter Milan on a five-year contract worth of €40 million, Achraf Hakimi is a product of Real Madrid - he was born in Madrid, Spain - and has played almost all his footballing career for the LaLiga giants.
Since he was born in Spain, Hakimi has the citizenship of Spain, and because he’s born to Moroccan parents, the Arab footballer has also the citizenship of Morocco.
That means he can play for both the countries’ national teams, though he has chosen Morocco over Spain and has even made 28 appearances for the Moroccan national team since 2016 scoring two goals for them in the process despite being a defender - actually a full-back and winger.
With Real Madrid, the 22-year-old Arab defender won UEFA Champions League in 2017-18 season and FIFA Club World Cup in 2017. He is also the winner of Globe Soccer Award of the Best Young Arab Player of the Year in 2019.
Mostly known for his long accurate passes from within the defense zone, Achraf is also a physically strong player and a pacey one.
When on loan from Real Madrid to Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund, he set a new pace record (running at 36.5 km/h) breaking the old Bundesliga speed record of 36.2 km/h which he himself had set a few months earlier!
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Another Egyptian footballer on the list of Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020, Mohamed Elneny is currently a player Arsenal on loan to the Turkish top-tier club, Beşiktaş.
Elneny has also played for the Swiss club, Basel, during his footballing career and has scored 5 goal for them despite being a defensive midfielder, not to mention that he has also won 4 consecutive Swiss Super League titles with the team from 2012 to 2016.
Elneny has served the Egyptian national team since 2011 scoring 6 goals in his 78 appearances for them. The Egyptian 28-year-old midfielder has also played for the Egyptian under-aged national teams and helped the Egyptian U23 national team qualify for 2012 Olympics.
Maybe if you know that Elneny even scored once against the LaLiga giants, Barcelona - actually in the Champions League Round of 16 second leg, you’ll admit that he deserves to be considered as one of greatest Arab football players of 2020.
A little bit into his personal life, the Egyptian midfielder is a devout Muslim. He prays five times a day and observes Ramadan - Muslims fasting month - every year.
Like Achraf Hakimi, Hakim Ziyech is also of dual nationality. Born to Moroccan parents in March 1993 in Dronten, Netherlands, Hakim has both the citizenship of Netherlands and Morocco.
He has played for the Netherlands under-aged national teams from 2012 to 2014, but has opted to represent Morocco as a senior player in international arenas; and he has scored quite a number of goals for them so far - actually 14 goals in his 32 appearances.
Hakim is currently a player of Ajax but he has signed a five-year contract worth of €40 million with Chelsea to join them in 2020-21 season. Quite a sum for an Egyptian player!
And if he just advances by €18 million in his next contracts, he will be among the 50 most expensive footballers in the world, though he’s already on the list of Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020.
Hakim has played for two Dutch clubs, namely HeerenveenIt and Twente, during his footballing career but it was with Ajax that he actually shined; he was named the Dutch Footballer of the Year the next season he joined Ajax (2017-18 season), and also Ajax Player of the Year in the same season (2017-18) and two following seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons).
The 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan midfielder also ranks first on the list of Eredivisie top assist providers in four seasons two of which he was in service of Ajax.
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Born to Algerian parents in February 1999 in Paris, France, Yacine Brahimi is one of the those top Arab footballers who is, like Achraf Hakimi, of dual nationality: he’s both Algerian and French.
And like Hakim Ziyech, he has served only the under-aged national teams of the country of his birth, France, but has opted to play for the senior national team of the country of his origin, Algeria.
Although Brahimi is currently a player of the Egyptian club, Al-Rayyan - he joined the club in 2019, he has only served top-tier European clubs prior to that, actually from the start of his senior career in 2009.
These clubs include Rennes and Granada of the France’s Ligue 1, and Porto of Primeira Liga of Portugal. Brahimi has served Porto more than any other club - actually 5 years - and if you ask us, it was with Porto that he shined and proved to be one of the greatest Arab football players of 2020.
He has actually scored the most number of goals in his footballing career for the Portuguese top-tier club - actually around 5 to 7 times more than other clubs he has played for - and attained most of his trophies and titles with the same club.
The 21-year-old French-Algerian midfielder has scored 39 goals for Porto and was named Porto Player of the Year in 2017 and in Primeira Liga Team of the Year in the same year. He has also achieved good results with Al-Rayyan of Egypt: 11 goals in his 17 appearances so far that means 1.5 goals in every appearance.
Another Arab footballer on the list of Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020 with dual nationality, Medhi Amine El Mouttaqi Benatia, simply known as Medhi Benatia, is a tall - he’s 190 cm - French-Moroccan defender who currently plays for the Qatari club, Al-Duhail, however, the 33-year-old Arab footballer has played for top-tier European clubs for the two third of his footballing career.
These clubs include AS Roma, Udinese, Juventus and Bayern Munich, and he served them from 2010 to 2019. Even before that, Benatia played for French clubs competing in the second and third tier of French football league system, namely Tours, Lorient and Clermont, from 2006 to 2010. Benatia is a tall and athletic defender who is also good in the air and is known as a good tackler.
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As for his honors, Medhi is the winner of Globe Soccer Award of the Best Arab Player of the Year in 2014, AS Roma Player of the Season Award in 2013-14 season, Serie A title in three consecutive seasons, namely 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 seasons with Juventus, Coppa Italia with the same club in 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, and Bundesliga title in 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons with Bayern Munich.
So, could we call him one of the biggest Arab football stars of 2020? Maybe!
Born to Algerian parents in February 1991 in Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France, Faouzi Ghoulam is another Arab footballer on the list of Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020 who is of dual nationality.
He’s both French and Algerian and can and have played for the both countries’ national teams, though not for the senior national team of France but their U21 team - for Algerian senior national team, Ghoulam has appeared 37 times scoring 5 goals for them despite being a defender.
Except for the Algerian national team, Ghoulam has never played for an Arab team. In fact, he has played all his footballing career - both youth and senior - for only two clubs: Saint-Étienne of Ligue 1 and Napoli of Serie A whom he has served since 2014 (for 6 years).
With Napoli, Ghoulam won Coppa Italia in 2013-14 and 2019-20 seasons, and Supercoppa Italiana (Italian Super Cup) in 2014, and with Saint-Étienne, only one trophy: Coupe de la Ligue or French League Cup in 2013. The 29-year-old Algerian-French defender also won the Algerian Footballer of the Year Award in 2017.
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Another top Arab footballer with dual nationality on the list of Top 10 Arab Football Players of 2020, Nabil Bentaleb is both a French and Algeria citizen.
Born to Algerian parents in November 1993 in Lille, France, Bentaleb is a tall midfielder - he’s 187 cm - who is currently a player of Schalke 04 II - Schalke 04 reserve team - on loan to the Premier League club, Newcastle United.
Bentaleb has only played for top-tier European clubs during his footballing career. These clubs include Tottehnham Hotsupr, Schalke 04, and Newcastle United.
The 27-year-old Algerian-French midfielder has also made 35 appearances for the Algerian national team since 2014 scoring 5 goals for them in the process - one goal in every seven appearances.
Bentaleb’s goal against FC Augsburg in 2016-17 season was named as the Bundesliga Goal of the Season in the same season.
In addition to that, Bentaleb was part of the Tottenham Hotsupur team who finished runner-up in Football League Cup in 2014-15 season. He was also part of the Algerian national team who competed in 2014 FIFA World Cup.
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Another French footballer of Algerian origin or if you like it an Algerian footballer who plays in Europe! Makes no difference as far as you know that like other top Arab footballers mentioned above, Sofiane Hanni is also of dual nationality.
He was born to Algerian parents in December 1990 in Ivry-sur-Seine, France, and currently plays for the Qatari club, Al-Gharafa - he has joined the club since 2019 and has scored 11 goals in his 17 appearances for them.
Despite currently being a member of Al-Ghafara, Hanni has played for the Belgian top-tier clubs including Anderlecht during his footballing career and even has scored quite a reasonable number of goals for them: For Anderlecht alone, he made 61 appearances and scored 18 goals which translates to almost one goal in every three appearances.
The 29-year-old French-Algerian midfielder has also served the top Russian club, Spartak Moscow, who, as some believe, are the most successful football club in Russia, during his career.
Hanni has also served Algerian national team since 2016 and has scored 4 goals in his 8 appearances for them (one goal in every two appearances). With Anderlecht, the Algerian midfielder won both Belgian First Division A title and Belgian Super Cup in the first season he joined them, actually 2016-17 season.
Hanni is the winner of Ebony Shoe Award - an award given to the best African or African origin player in the Belgian top-tier league - in 2015-16 season, and the Belgian Lion Award - an award that is given to the best Arab origin player in the Belgian pro league - in 2016.
He was also named Belgian League Professional Footballer of the Year in 2015-16 season.