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||1.76 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 3 June 2016.
Mehdi François Carcela-González (Arabic: المهدي كارسيلا; born 1 July 1989) is a Moroccan professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Portuguese club Benfica 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 was paid €5.7 million. In 2015, he signed with Benfica.
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 Morocco 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 team-mate 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 the Eagles 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 3 June 2016
- Standard Liège
- Anzhi Makhachkala
- S.L. Benfica (26 June 2015). "Players" (PDF) (in Portuguese). CMVM. p. 75. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
- "Standard Liege 2 - 0 Kortrijk". World Football. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Match Report: Stuttgart 3 - 0 Standard Liege". UEFA Official Website. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Match Report: KSV Roeselare 1 -5 Standard Liege". World Football. 15 August 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Standard wint, maar verliest Defour" [Standard wins, but loses Defour] (in Dutch). AD.nl. 13 September 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Match Report: Lokoren 1 - 3 Standard Liege". World Football. 19 September 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Arsenal 2 - 0 Standard Liege". BBC Sport. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Carcela maar 2 Europese matchen aan de kant" [Carcela but two European games on the side] (in Dutch). De Standaard. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Zidane veut Carcela au Real Madrid" [Zidane wants Carcela at Real Madrid] (in French). Info Sports. 13 November 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Match Report: Lokoren 1 - 4 Standard Liege". World Football. 6 August 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Match Report: Standard Liege 3 - 3 Sporting Lokoren". World Football. 14 August 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Match Report: Standard Liege 5 - 1 Anderlecht". World Football. 3 October 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Racing Genk verslaat Standard LuikLiege" [Racing Genk beat Standard Liège] (in Dutch). AD.nl. 17 October 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Standard Luik gaat AA Gent voorbij" [AA Gent Standard Liege goes beyond] (in Dutch). AD.nl. 24 October 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Don Balon's list of the 100 best young players in the world". The Spoiler Website. 2 November 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Le terrible choc Mavinga-Carcela" [Mavinga and Carcela's terrible collision]. DH.be (in French). 17 May 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Belgique: un joueur confond le football avec du kick-boxing (vidéo)" [Belgium: a player confuses football with kickboxing (video)] (in French). Gentside Sport. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Flink gehavende Carcela onder het mes" [Flink battered Carcela under the knife] (in Dutch). AD.nl. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Herstellende Carcela-Gonzalez: 'Had dood kunnen zijn'" [Recovering Carcela-Gonzalez: 'Could be dead'] (in Dutch). Voetbal International. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Mehdi Carcela succesvol geopereerd" [Mehdi Carcela successful surgery] (in Dutch). De Standaard. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Standard Liege says Carcela-Gonzalez to join Anzhi pending medical". RIA Novositi. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "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.
- "Карсела-Гонсалес: "Анжи" — это шаг вперёд в моей карьере" [Carcela-Gonzalez: 'Anzhi' is a step forward in my career] (in Russian). Championat.com. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Tottenham and Chelsea transfer target Willian poised for bargain move as Anzhi slash budget". Daily Mirror. 7 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
- "Карсела-Гонсалес может перейти в "Стандард" или "Рому"" [Carcela-González can go to 'Standard' or 'Roma'] (in Russian). Championat.com. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- ""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.
- "Standard haalt Carcela terug uit Rusland" [Standard Carcela gets back from Russia] (in Dutch). Sporza Official Website. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- Clements, Ashley (9 December 2013). "Belgian league match reaches boiling point as Liege midfielder Carcela-Gonzalez sent off for punching opponent in the face". Mail Online. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
- "Vuistslag komt Carcela op vier duels schorsing te staan" [Punch brings Carcela four-match ban] (in Dutch). Voetbal International. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
- "Been wint van Menzo, Standard beste in Waalse derby" [Bone wins Menzo, Standard best in Walloon derby] (in Dutch). AD.nl. 15 February 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Standard Luik terug aan kop in België" [Standard Liege back on top in Belgium] (in Dutch). AD.nl. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Anderlecht opnieuw kampioen van België" [Anderlecht again champion of Belgium] (in Dutch). AD.nl. 18 May 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Mehdi Carcela: I'm honoured to play for a mythical club". S.L. Benfica. 13 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- "Official: Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez Opts To Represent Belgium At International Level". Goal.com. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Standard Liege's Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez Yet To Decide On International Future". Goal.com. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Georges Leekens : "On a tout fait pour l'avoir" [Georges Leekens: "We did everything to get him"] (in French). DHnet. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Morocco 3-0 Niger: Atlas Lions Thrash The Mena Thanks To Mbarak Boussoufa Double". Goal.com. 10 February 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "I Am Proud That I Chose Morocco – Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez". Goal.com. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Mehdi Carcela krijgt eigen sportcomplex in België" [Medhi Carcela makes his own sports complex in Belgium] (in Dutch). Bladna.nl. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Mehdi Carcela-González". National Football Teams. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
- Mehdi Carcela-González profile at Soccerway. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
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