Monday Nov 08, 2021. 14:00
Algeria head coach Djamel Belmadi says Xavi Hernandez likes Baghdad Bounedjah a lot amidst reports linking the striker with Spanish giants FC Barcelona.
This comes after Xavi was announced as the new Barcelona manager having left Al Sadd where he worked with Bounedjah, who is one of the best players in the Qatari Stars League.
Bounedjah, who is an Algeria international, scored a league record of 39 goals in one season during the 2018/19 campaign and was the world’s leading goalscorer during the 2018 calendar year with 58 goals overall.
The 29-year-old hitman also finished as the league’s top scorer in the 2020-21 season with 21 goals in 19 games and his exploits inspired the team to the Stars League title.
“Baghdad is doing extraordinary things. Baghdad in Barcelona, what do you want me to tell you? Xavi knows better than I… maybe he thinks Baghdad is the first or second choice,” Belmadi told TSA Algerie.
“It can be a surprise for others and not for him since he knows him. He knows how to compare with the squad there is at the moment in Barcelona.
“God only knows, that would be an extraordinary thing. “He made history, he scored goals everywhere…He scored the goal of the Afcon final, one of the most important goals in the history of Algerian football,” he continued.
“We do not recognise his quality precisely because he plays in Qatar, whereas, in Qatar, there are players who cannot do it.”
Belmadi included Bounedjah in the Algeria squad which won the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations title with the striker scoring the only goal of the final match against Senegal.
“The current Barca is not the Barcelona of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta. In our timing, I don’t know if Xavi has in mind to bring him back to Barcelona, but I know he likes him a lot,” he added.
“I know he could bring any center forward back to Al-Sadd, they have unlimited resources, but it wasn’t even a dream. Out of all the foreigners they have, number 1 is still Baghdad.
“Xavi appreciates the player, he played with him, he knows his qualities and he knows how to compare with the players with whom he has evolved.”
Bounedjah joined Al Sadd from Tunisian club Etoile Du Sahel in 2015 and his current contract with the club will expire in 2024.