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Fourteen new faces were brought in by FC Porto last summer to rebuild after a rare season of failure. The influx included big names from La Liga, such as Barcelona’s Cristian Tello and Atletico Madrid’s Oliver Torres and Adrian Lopez. But another Spanish-based player, Yacine Brahimi, has outshone them all.
He was undoubtedly Porto best performer in the first half of the season, his superb dribbling, incisive attacking and eye for goal making him a key player for the Dragons. Although a potent weapon when out wide and attacking the by-line, he is even more effective when drifting inside, his tight control, intelligent combination play and clinical finishing making him a nightmare for opposition defences.
After a month’s absence to represent Algeria in the African Cup of Nations in January, he came back looking as sharp as ever, notching the only goal of the game in Friday’s vital victory over Vitória Guimarães.
We should not have been surprised by Brahimi’s wonderful dribbling skills. Last season he finished top of the ‘successful dribbles’ statistics chart in Spain, ahead of Lionel Messi (164 versus 143). But it is his ability to produce an end product that makes the sleight Algerian truly stand out.
As well as abundant assists, he has weighed in with 10 goals in 25 matches in all competitions to date, several of a spectacular nature. He only made his Champions League debut this season but already has five goals to his name in the world’s greatest club competition, including a memorable hat-trick against BATE Borisov.
Having produced mesmerising displays at Granada in 2013/14, for Algeria at the Brazil World Cup, and for Porto this season, Brahimi was a worthy winner of the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award for 2014.
And Portugal winger Ricardo Quaresma believes there is even more to come from the 25-year-old, recently saying: “Brahimi is truly exceptional. He can become the best player in the world.”
Written by Tom Kundert
Follow Tom on Twitter @Portu_Goal
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