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In July 2016, Newcastle United announced the signing of exciting talent Yasin Ben El-Mhanni.
It was the youngster’s first break in professional football after plying his trade in the non-league for clubs Farnborough FC and Lewes FC before catching the attention of the Magpies.
The 21-year-old is not the typical non-league footballer however due to his raw ability and was not completely unknown to some fans as he gained internet stardom through videos whereby he performed freestyle tricks and dazzling skills.
Ben El-Mhanni has also doubled for stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
Tricky and versatile
Ben El-Mhanni primarily plays on the left-wing, while he is also capable of being deployed as an attacking midfielder as well as on the right-wing.
The Moroccan is a tricky wide-man, capable of taking players on with ease using his pace, agility and array of skills.
Almost one year since his arrival, the youngster has seen his value increase.
He was predominantly signed to reinforce Newcastle’s reserve team as well as to develop and has featured heavily for United’s under-23 Premier League side, while being under the guidance and expertise of Magpies legend Peter Beardsley.
As there have been plenty of cases where young players are rushed into a club’s first team and thus see their development hindered, the approach taken by Newcastle on Yasin Ben El-Mhanni is a sensible one.
Taking a natural talented footballer from the lower echelons of football into being a success in the Premier League is a giant step and, although this feat has been achieved before (notably by Jamie Vardy), it is not common and takes time.
Therefore, by placing the Moroccan in the under-23 side, nurturing him and expanding his in-game knowledge as well as taking his time to adapt, the hope is for Ben El-Mhanni to be ready and intelligent enough to grasp his opportunity in the Premier League when it arrives.
Ben El-Mhanni has not solely stuck with the reserve squad in his first season, as he has been exposed to training with the first team on multiple occasions.
Trusted by Rafa
The winger has been rewarded with his hard work this season by featuring twice for the first team in FA Cup matches at home to Birmingham City and away to Oxford United respectively, starting both.
Ben El-Mhanni showed glimpses of his talent as well as flashes of trickery in the FA Cup matches, although he himself will know that there is plenty of room for improvement which is understandable for a younger player.
Manager Rafael Benitez has certainly seen something in the Moroccan and by involving him in first team training, will hope to motivate the youngster to work harder to break into the United team and become a top player.
The youngster has been blessed with a high profile and quality manager in Benitez and a legendary ex-Newcastle star Beardsley, both of whom he will learn a great amount from and will guide him in blossoming into a household name.
The future is bright for Yasin Ben El-Mhanni.
Written by Dawud Arshad
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