Carcela-González with Anzhi Makhachkala in 2012
|Full name||Mehdi François Carcela-González|
|Date of birth||1 July 1989|
|Place of birth||Liège, Belgium|
|Height||1.79 m (5 ft 10 1⁄2 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:02, 28 May 2017 (UTC).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 10 June 2017
Mehdi François Carcela-González (Arabic: المهدي كارسيلا; born 1 July 1989) is a Moroccan-Belgian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Greek club Olympiacos and the Morocco national team.
He began his career in his hometown club Standard Liège, where he played over 100 matches in before and after a stint with Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia, for which he signed for a fee of €5.7 million. In 2015, he signed with Benfica, and a year later Granada.
Carcela-González represented Belgium at all youth levels and played twice for its senior team before changing his allegiance to his ancestral Morocco in 2010, going on to represent them at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Carcela-González is a product of the Standard Liège academy, having joined the club at age five. He made his professional debut at nineteen, when he came on as a substitute for Igor de Camargo in the 81st minute. Standard won 2–0 against Kortrijk on 13 September 2008. He later made his European debut in the last game of the group stage of the UEFA Cup against Stuttgart on 18 December 2008, coming on as a substitute for Wilfried Dalmat in the 65th minute of a 3–0 away defeat. In his first season, the club won the league and Belgian Super Cup, with him making only twelve appearances.
Carcela-González began the 2009–10 season as a substitute, as Standard won the Belgian Super Cup for the second time running. He then scored his first goal for the club and made an assist, in a 5–1 win over Roeselare on 15 August. Four weeks later, on 13 September, he scored twice, as the team beat Mechelen 3–0. He then scored in the next match six days later, in a 3–1 win over Lokeren. On 24 November he was sent off in the Champions League group match at Arsenal after he head-butted Cesc Fàbregas in the waning moments of the 2–0 defeat at Emirates Stadium. As a result, Carcela-González missed two matches in the next European games. This season proved a breakthrough season for Carcela-González, as he scored five goals in 44 appearances in all competitions.
In the 2010–11 season, Carcela-González's performances were observed by Zinedine Zidane from Real Madrid. He made an impressive start to the season when he scored four goals in two games against Lierse on 6 August and Lokoren eight days later. He then scored three goals in three matches between game weeks 10 and 12, as he helped the club humiliate Anderlecht in a 5–1 win; then scored another in a loss against Genk on 17 October; and a 2–1 win against Gent a week later. At the end of 2010, Carcela-González was listed among the 100 best young players in the world by Don Balón.
On 17 May 2011, he was on the receiving end of a kick in the face from Chris Mavinga while both players were tussling for the ball in a league match against Genk, which left him with several facial fractures and broken teeth. After the match, Mavinga apologised to Carcela-González for his actions. Meanwhile, that season, Carcela-González would help the club progress in the Belgian Cup by scoring in the second leg of the semi final, as Standard Liege beat Gent 4–1 to reach the final. Carcela-González had surgery to treat the injury he sustained from Mavinga. He described the incident as the "most difficult period of his life" because he feared that he could have died. As a result of having surgery, He missed the final of the Belgian Cup, in which his team won 2–0 against Westerlo. By the end of the season, Carcela-González had made 44 appearances in all competitions and scoring 14 times, making him the club's top scorer of the 2010–11 season.
In September 2011, Carcela-González moved to Russia by joining Anzhi Makhachkala for €5.7 million, where he signed a four-year contract. Upon joining the club, he revealed that Spartak Moscow offered a wage double what Anzhi offered. However, Spartak Moscow's sporting director, Dmitri Popov, denied the claim, suggesting he joined Anzhi because of his religion. Makhachkala, capital of the Republic of Dagestan, has a large Muslim population and Carcela-González joined with his compatriot teammate Mbark Boussoufa.
In his first season, Carcela-González made only eight appearances, because of his injury concerns and his upcoming commitments in the African Cup of Nations. At one point, Carcela-González played in the centre forward position on 1 April 2012, in a 1–0 loss against Rubin Kazan.
In his first full season, Carcela-González saw his future at the club in doubt and considered leaving the club if he did not get enough playing time, and the club management considered selling him. As a result, he was suspected to be moving to Udinese Despite this situation, he scored his first goal for the club, in a 1–0 win over Amkar Perm on 5 August 2012. In the UEFA Europa League play-off round, Carcela-González scored again, as Anzhi thrashed AZ 5–0, beating them 6–0 on aggregate. From there, Carcela-González had an extended run in the first team that he considered a step forward in his career.
In August 2013, following restructuring at business level, Anzhi chose to transfer list its whole squad, including Carcela-González. Following this, he expressed a desire to leave the club, and was rumored to be moving back to Standard, or to Roma, Marseille, Toulouse or Nice.
Return to Standard Liège
After two years in Russia, Carcela-González returned to Standard Liège on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee.
On 8 December 2013, after Oud-Heverlee Leuven's Bjorn Ruytinx committed a bad foul on Carcela-González and then appeared to be laughing, Carcela-González got up, punched him in the face, and was sent off. He received a four-match suspension. He scored in a 1–0 against Charleroi on 15 February 2014. Carcela-González then scored his second goal of the season, in a 1–0 win over Anderlecht on 30 March 2014. In the last game of the season, he scored for the third time of the season, in a 1–0 win over Gent, but Anderlecht's victory gave them instead of Standard the title.
On 13 June 2015, Carcela-González signed a four-year deal with Portuguese champions Benfica. He debuted for the team on 23 August in a 1–0 away loss at Arouca in the Primeira Liga, and scored his first goal for Benfica on 16 October in a 2–1 away win at Vianense in the Taça de Portugal. Two weeks later, he scored his first goal in the Primeira Liga, in a 4–0 league win at Tondela. On 20 March, Carcela assisted Jonas who scored the winning goal against Boavista (1–0) in the league.
He initially chose to represent his country of birth, Belgium, and even played two friendlies with the Red Devils, but in December 2010 he changed his mind and decided to represent Morocco.
In February 2011, Carcela-González made his debut with the Atlas Lions of Morocco against Niger in a 3–0 win for his new side. He made an instant impact after being introduced as a substitute late into the second half; he won a penalty after being brought down by an opposing player, ending with a 2-0 win. After making his debut, Carcela-González later spoke out on his decision playing for Morocco, saying that he is proud to represent the national team and that it felt "like a childhood dream".
- As of match played 11 October 2016. Morocco score listed first, score column indicates score after each Carcela-González goal.
|1||11 October 2016||Stade de Marrakech, Marrakesh, Morocco||12||Canada||1–0||4–0||Friendly|
- As of 11 October 2016
- Standard Liège
- Anzhi Makhachkala
- S.L. Benfica (26 June 2015). "Players" (PDF) (in Portuguese). CMVM. p. 75. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
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- "Flink gehavende Carcela onder het mes" [Flink battered Carcela under the knife] (in Dutch). AD.nl. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
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- "Карсела-Гонсалес: в "Спартаке" мне предлагали немного больше, чем в "Анжи"" [Carcela-Gonzalez: 'Spartak' offered me a bit more than 'Anzhi'] (in Russian). Championat.com. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Карсела-Гонсалес пропустил тренировку "Анжи" из-за пищевого отравления" [Carcela-González missed 'Anzhi' training due to food poisoning] (in Russian). Championat.com. 9 May 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Буссуфа и Карсела-Гонсалес вернулись в "Анжи"" [Boussoufa and Carcela-González returned to 'Anzhi'] (in Russian). Championat.com. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Ex-Anzhi Coach Takes Swipe at Hiddink's Team". RIA Novosti. 5 April 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- ""Анжи" готов расстаться с Карсела-Гонсалесом" ['Anzhi' willing to part with Carcela-González] (in Russian). Championat.com. 28 July 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Ларини: "Удинезе" не связывался с "Анжи" по поводу Карсела-Гонсалеса" [Larini: 'Udinese' has not contacted 'Anzhi' about Carcela-González] (in Russian). Championat.com. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Карсела-Гонсалес: моя задача состояла в том, чтобы поменять ход игры с "Амкаром"" [Carcela-González: my goal was to change the course of the game with 'Amkar'] (in Russian). Championat.com. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Anzhi Smash 5 Past Dutch for Europa League Group Spot". RIA Novosti. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
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- ""Марсель", "Ницца" и "Тулуза" интересуются Карсела-Гонсалесом" ['Marseille', 'Nice' and 'Toulouse' interested in Carcela-González] (in Russian). Championat.com. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
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- Mehdi Carcela-González at Soccerway. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
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