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Africa

African Cup of Nations: Younes Belhanda

Montpellier have been in scintillating form in the French Ligue 1 this season which has seen them rise into second-place behind a rejuvenated Paris St Germain side.

Younes Belhanda has been a revelation behind their success this season and is looking to make a huge impression as Morocco fight for only their second ever title.

The 21-year-old has featured regularly in France this season and has accumulated 5 goals and 5 assists in 17 appearances for the French club.

Despite Belhanda evidently enjoying his football in western Europe, he has warned that if Montpellier fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, he would like to quit the club in order to join Borussia Dortmund, who have shown a huge interest in him over the past few months.

Marseille and Lyon have previously shown interest but talk of them signing the youngster has been put in cold water by Montpellier officials.

Morocco have high expectations ahead of their campaign in this year’s Cup of Nations. Marouane Chamakh and Adel Taraabt spearhead a side that has relatively underachieved in recent years on the international scene.

Morocco stand as one of the favourites to win this year’s tournament along with Senegal, who welcome in-form striker Demba Ba into their squad.

Belhanda has been a stand-out star for Montpellier this season and could really use this tournament to boost his profile on the international scene.

Dortmund’s interest could be rivalled after this tournament by one of Europe’s other big clubs as Belhanda believes Morocco have the determination to fight all the way till the end.

The young midfielder stands at 5ft 7, not particularly tall but possesses a great deal of pace and strength that has troubled defenders this season.

His technique is admirable as he searches out a killer pass and provides great movement in and around the 18-yard box.

Before moving to Montpellier in 2003 as part of their youth side, Belhanda played for this hometown club of MJC Avignon and previously RC Aramonais.

In 2009, Belhanda was promoted to Montpellier’s senior side where he has since managed to cement a regular place which in turn earned him a call-up to the Moroccan senior side.

Belhanda was born in France but his parents are of Moroccan origin. He previous chose to play for France at youth level and has been a part of their Under 20 side, but decided to play for the African nation in 2010 when he made his debut.

 

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About Tom Bennett

I'm a 21-year-old Multimedia Journalism student at Bournemouth University aspiring to be one of Britain's top sports journalists. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for contact and further information.

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