After three complicated seasons in England and Turkey, the Algerian, replacing at the African Cup of Nations, multiplies the goals and assists in Ligue 1.
Already five goals and seven assists … AS Monaco has found with Islam Slimani, 31 years, such a reason for satisfaction that the French club could lift the option to purchase, estimated at 10 million euros, this child of Algiers decidedly in top form. Already this summer, he had distinguished himself at the African Cup of Nations Football (CAN) in Egypt, where, although substitute, he had contributed to the conquest of the trophy by Algeria. «Djamel Belmadi (the coach of the Fennecs) was right to select him, despite criticism: he knew very well what Slimani could bring Says Rabah Madjer, former international and former coach of Algeria.
Nothing was gained for this player who comes out of three difficult seasons in Leicester City, Newcastle United and Fenerbahce Istanbul, with limited playing time and disappointing statistics (18 goals in all competitions). Even in his country, Slimani has never been unanimous. "People recognize his talents as a scorer, his generosity on the field, his state of mind. But he also happens to be criticized, because it does not correspond to the prototype of the Algerian footballer, very technical. Slimani is not necessarily good looking, but it is effective, " observes Nordine Kourichi, who has worn the jersey of the Fennecs 52 times before being the assistant of Vahid Halilhodzic, coach of Algeria from 2011 to 2014.
Originally from the district of Ain Benian, west of Algiers, the striker first played for a club located near his home. Rather good student, he interrupts his studies to devote himself fully to his passion. A choice that does not immediately convince his parents, even if the player pays his first salary (230 euros) to his mother when he signs to the JSM Cheraga (third division), another formation of the capital. This is the beginning of his ascent. "He was good, able to climb the ladder, and we tried the bet", remembers Mustapha Kouici, former international and former general manager of CR Belouizdad (Algiers), who offered Islam Slimani his first professional contract in 2009.
"We did not trust him"
In Belouizdad, Slimani acclimates slowly and manages to climb to the level of Ligue 1, silencing fans who mock his particular style. "He became an international Algerian in 2012, while he was still in the country. Vahid Halilhodzic saw him as a player capable of adapting to his system of play, with a large margin of progression ", explains Nordine Kourichi. In 66 caps, he scored 29 goals.
His exile in Portugal, where his first coach at Sporting CP (Lisbon) was Leonardo Jardim, the current Monaco coach, is a success, with 55 goals scored. The following summer, Leicester pays 35 million euros to bring him to England – this is the biggest transfer for a Maghreb player – and offers him an annual salary of 4.8 million euros. " But whether in Leicester, Newcastle or Fenerbahce, he was not trusted Rabah Madjer, who led Slimani during his visit to the Fennecs bench, said from 2017 to 2018: "Even when he played little in the club, I selected him because I knew he was an important player for the selection. "
A major player on which AS Monaco will unfortunately not count in his next match of the Coupe de France, Wednesday, October 30, against Olympique Marseille. Injured Friday in the Ligue 1 match against Nantes, Islam Slimani will not participate in the meeting.