There are some players in world football that bombard you with how talented they are. They have the look, get all the marketing deals early and no-one stops talking about them from day one until they retire. Some, however, hover under the radar and slowly let everyone know just how good they are and even then, they can be underrated.
That last sentence almost describes Wissam Ben Yedder’s entire career, a player with bags of talent and even improves year on year, yet no big team will take a risk on him. Plenty have been linked, from Liverpool to Tottenham and even at one point Barcelona, but will his never-ending rise eventually see him rub shoulders with the biggest and brightest?
He first broke onto the scene back in the 2012-13 season, where he became a permanent fixture in the Toulouse team. In 34 games in the league, he scored 15 goals whilst making four assists and contributed to 31% of TFC’s goals that season. His speed, along with his clever runs in behind the defence, really put Ligue 1 defences on the back foot and he showed that he would be the kind of player that would get you out of your seat at a moment’s notice.
He continued that kind of form into the next season, scoring 16 in 38 appearances whilst making 5 assists. He was especially potent at home, where he scored 13 of his goals, which was 57% of his entire team’s goal at home, an impressive feat. He was also fouled extremely often, with his pace causing regular problems and giving his side set-pieces in dangerous areas.
There were still some questions, though. His goals tally away from the Stadium Muncipal was poor, with just 3, and the way he plays, dropping into the hole, should have generated more assists. He had a few quality players around him, most notably Serge Aurier, and with his departure, many thought he might struggle with the pressure solely on his shoulders.
However, he’s beginning to prove his doubters wrong and in 13 outings so far, he’s notched up seven goals and is the real catalyst for Toulouse. He’s contributing to every phase of play, starting attacks as well as finishing them and has shown regularly that he has real quality with the ball at his feet.
Ben Yedder is one of those players that defenders would describe as a “pest”, he will not stop moving during the whole game and always keeps the centre backs on their toes. He’s quick, clever with the ball and has a real striker’s instinct in front of goal. The 24-year-old is surprisingly capable of playing up front alone despite his diminutive size so long as you play to his strengths, dropping deep and running in behind high defences.
He still has a few flaws; he scores in bursts and getting him back in the goals in crucial to get the very best out of the French Tunisian. He wants to be involved in the game so defences will try and isolate him from it, which greatly diminishes his influence, but in a better side he could be a very potent weapon.
Looking back at his most recent start against Metz, Ben Yedder showed all his brilliance in a 90 minute match. He was regularly looking to have the ball at his feet, bringing others into play and also showed just how good he can be in front of goal. He managed just the one goal but he started both attacks in the team’s 3-0 win and his influence on the team was obvious to everyone watching.
Ben Yedder is really beginning to shine as a footballer and as more clubs look at him, it should only be a matter of time before someone decides to jump to the head of the queue. He’d be a good addition to a few clubs struggling to score goals. He plays like he’d be an ideal fit for Liverpool as he would fit into their high-speed, flowing game, but they would probably not take the risk.
What is certain is that Wissam Ben Yedder is a footballer that only seems to get better each year, despite his supporting class at Toulouse being reduced in quality. That he remains so under-the-radar is outstanding. He’s the kind of player that when he’s given the chance, he’ll take it with both hands and in terms of moving onto bigger and better things, it’s looking like more a question of when rather than if.