While talking up Algeria’s chances of making the World Cup’s last 16, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has highlighted West Ham United target Islam Slimani for particular praise.
With a 4-2 win over South Korea following a spirited 2-1 opening defeat to Belgium, Algeria enter Thursday’s final group game against Russia with a draw likely enough to see them through to the knockout stages for the first time in their history.
Grabbing a goal and assist in the side’s first World Cup win since 1982, Slimani’s impact proved crucial as the Fennec Foxes took a huge step towards exceeding their pre-tournament expectations and Mourinho believes there are even better things to come from the Sporting Lisbon striker.
"The striker, Slimani, I know well because he played in Portugal this season," he told Yahoo Eurosport. "He’s a very aggressive striker. He likes to score goals. He’s fast, as you saw with his goal, but at the same time he’s very strong in the air. Just solid all-round."
Algeria’s top scorer in qualifying with five goals, Slimani moved to Europe last summer from CR Belouizdad, where his eight goals in 26 appearances for Sporting helped the Portuguese side to a second-place finish in the Primeira Liga.
Voted the country’s player of the year in 2013, the 26-year-old’s form for both his club and the national team attracted the interest of West Ham in January and the Hammers appear to be renewing their interest in the tall frontman, having struggled for options up top last season with target man Andy Carroll out injured.
Along with Valencia playmaker Sofiane Feghouli, who Mourinho also took the time to single out, Slimani stands out as Algeria’s main attacking threat for the decisive Russia clash and, should he impress for a second time out, his reported £6.5 million price tag could well be set to rise.