5 facts about £6m Newcastle target and World Cup hero Islam Slimani

Jack Beresford offers up five fascinating facts about the Algeria goal king who could be in line for a move to Newcastle United and the Premier League.

Toon fans rejoice! A new goalscoring saviour is on the horizon in the shape of Sporting Lisbon and Algeria striker Islam Slimani, the forward who played a key role in the Fennec Foxes 4-2 win over Korea Republic.

That result was the first time in the history of the World Cup that an African side has managed four or more goals in a game and with Slimani scoring one and setting up another, a number of Premier League teams were evidently impressed with Newcastle United among those linked with a £6 million move for the 26-year-old.

But what do we actually know about him? Read on to find out more.

Slimani’s background

Born in the capital Algiers to a working class family, Slimani had a tough upbringing, living in the poor western-based suburb of Ain Bénian.

As a youngster he would often go fishing but with no money for either a rod or net, he would instead use a plastic bottle tied to several pieces of string to catch fish, often with mixed results.

His life changed after moving from local side WB Ain Bénian to third division team JSM Chéraga six years ago, with Slimani scoring 18 goals in 22 games the following season to earn a £7,000 move to CR Belouizdad where he eventually caught the attention of Sporting Lisbon.

Slimani’s departure

The Algerian striker’s move to Sporting wasn’t a simple one though, with CR Belouizdad initially rebuffing any interest in their star player, who was under contract with the club.

In the end Slimani took CRB to court over a contract dispute, with the forward claiming that the club had gone back on a contractual promise to provide him with an apartment. The Algerian Football Federation sided with Slimani who was allowed to terminate his contract and depart on a free.

Slimani’s flirtation with France

In demand after departing CR Belouizdad, Slimani had his choice of clubs and looked set for a move to Ligue 1 after agreeing terms with Nantes.

But before Slimani could seal his switch to Les Canaris, Sporting Lisbon came in with a superior contract offer and the chance to play for the legendary European club. It proved too good to resist, with Slimani signing with Sporting in August 2013.

Slimani arrives at Sporting

Initially used by then Sporting manager Leonardo Jardim as an impact substitute during the first half of the season, Slimani impressed enough in his cameo appearances to finally earn a first-team place after rival Fredy Montero suffered a drop-off in form.

The Algerian duly repaid Jardim with a run of four goals in four games during March, including the winner in the all-important Classic against Porto. Since then the Sporting fans have taken to him, dubbing the 26-year-old Super Slim.

Slimani for Algeria

Initially called up to the Algeria squad for a training camp in 2009, Slimani had to wait three more years for his first official appearance, coming on against Niger in a friendly.

A week later he made his first real impact, scoring against Rwanda in a 4-0 win in World Cup qualifying. He managed a further three goals for the Fennec Foxes at the preliminary stage, as part of an overall tally of 11 goals in 23 games for Algeria.

After impressing for Sporting and the Fennecs alike, he was named Algerian footballer of the year for 2013, taking home the Algerian golden ball.

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