Younès Belhanda

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Younès Belhanda
Younès Belhanda.jpg
Belhanda with Dynamo Kyiv in 2013
Personal information
Date of birth (1990-02-25) 25 February 1990 (age 26)
Place of birth Avignon, France
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Dynamo Kyiv
Youth career
1997–1998 RC Aramonais
1998–2003 MJC Avignon
2003–2009 Montpellier
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2009–2013 Montpellier 127 (26)
2013– Dynamo Kyiv 56 (8)
2016 Schalke 04 (loan) 15 (2)
National team
2010 France U20 4 (0)
2010– Morocco 32 (3)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 27 May 2016.
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 October 2015

Younès Belhanda (born 25 February 1990) is a French-born Moroccan international footballer who currently plays for Ukrainian club Dynamo Kyiv, and the Morocco national team.

Early life[edit]

Belhanda was born in Avignon, a commune in southeastern France, but was raised in nearby Aramon.[2] He is of Moroccan descent (from Taza) through his parents and has five other siblings.[2] Belhanda began his football career playing for hometown club Racing Club Aramon.[3] He spent one year at the club before joining MJC Avignon, a local cultural center based in his birthplace.[3] The center offered a variety of activities, which included football. While at the club, Belhanda was utilized as a libero and mentored by trainer Jean-Christophe Gleyze.[4][5] The player has admitted that Gleyze played a huge part in determining his future stating "He is more than a coach. Since my father worked and I lived in the Gard, it was him who took me to training and my home for three years. Without him and MJC Avignon, I would never have been spotted by other clubs".[5]

At the age of 13, Belhanda was scouted by several professional clubs, most notably Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, and Saint-Étienne.[4] Despite Marseille being the most enticing club, Belhanda declined the opportunity stating "the club is not known for its training center".[5] He ultimately decided to join Saint-Étienne, but changed his mind after discussing the move with his parents, who recommended that he join Montpellier in order to remain close to home.[2]

Club career[edit]

Montpellier[edit]

While in Montpellier's youth academy, Belhanda was converted into a defensive midfielder.[4] He spent five years in the club's academy developing alongside fellow youth teammates Benjamin Stambouli, Abdelhamid El Kaoutari, and Rémy Cabella.[2] Towards the end of the 2007–08 season, Belhanda was promoted to the club's reserve team, which was playing in the Championnat de France amateur (CFA), the fourth level of French football.[6] In the ensuing season, he simultaneously played on the reserve team and with the club's under-19 team in the Coupe Gambardella, the national youth cup competition in France.[7] In the latter competition, Montpellier won the title, capturing its second Gambardella cup. Belhanda appeared in all six matches the team contested. In the final, he played the entire match as Montpellier defeated Nantes 2–0.[8]

2009–10 season[edit]

As a result of the under-19 team's cup success, several of the members of the squad were awarded professional contracts. Belhanda was among them and, on 27 July 2009, agreed to a three-year deal.[9] He was, subsequently, promoted to the senior team by new incoming manager René Girard and assigned the number 29 shirt. Despite being brought up under a defensive mentality, Girard preferred to utilize Belhanda as an attacker by placing him on the left side of the team's 4–2–3–1 formation. Girard gave his reasons for converting Belhanda stating "his desire to get on the ball combined with excellent technique means he can play through the middle or on the wings". He subsequently likened the player to former France international Robert Pirès.[10]

Belhanda made his professional debut in the team's opening league match of the 2009–10 season against Paris Saint-Germain. The match ended 1–1 with French media outlet La Provence describing the match as a "baptism of fire" for Belhanda.[5][11] The midfielder admitted to having nerves declaring "I was playing against Makélélé, a player I admired when I was little. These are moments to live. I had pressure; I used to play in front of 200 or 300 people in the CFA".[5] On 19 September 2009, Belhanda scored his first professional goal in a 4–2 defeat to Marseille at the Stade Vélodrome.[12] In his next eight matches with the team, he featured as a starter. On 11 November, he assisted on Montpellier's only goal, scored by Víctor Montaño, in a 1–1 draw with Valenciennes.[13] On 13 January 2010, Belhanda received his first red card after incurring a second yellow card in a 4–0 loss away to Monaco.[14] After starting in the team's 1–0 win over Lens on 20 January,[15]

2010–11 season[edit]

Younès Belhanda against Niger

Belhanda opened the 2010–11 campaign by making his European debut on 29 July 2010 in the first leg of Montpellier's UEFA Europa League third qualifying round with Hungarian club Győri ETO. He started the match, but was substituted out after 71 minutes as the match finished 1–0.[16] In the second leg, Montpellier were defeated losing on penalties after the match finished 1–0 in favor of Győri in regular and extra time.[17] Belhanda appeared as a second-half substitute in the match and did not attempt a penalty in the shootout. On 19 August, he signed a two-year contract extension with Montpellier until 2014.[18] In the league, Belhanda appeared as a substitute in the team's first two matches of the campaign. He made his first start on 22 August in a 0–0 draw with Caen.[19] On 16 October, Belhanda scored his first goal of the season in a 2–0 victory over Sochaux.[20] He went another two months without scoring before converting the opening goal in a 1–1 draw with Auxerre.[21]

In the Coupe de la Ligue, Montpellier surprisingly reached the final of the competition.[22][23] Belhanda appeared as a substitute in the team's first two matches of the competition, but was inserted as a starter in the team's 1–0 semi-final extra time win over Paris Saint-Germain. The win over Les Parisiens sent Montpellier to its first major final since the 1993–94 season when the club reached the final of the Coupe de France.[24][25] In the final, Montpellier faced Marseille and were defeated 1–0 courtesy of a goal by Taye Taiwo.[26][27] Belhanda played the entire match.[28]

On 20 February 2011, Belhanda assisted on Olivier Giroud's first goal in Montpellier's 2–2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain.[29] A month later, he scored the match-winning goal against the eventual league champions Lille.[30]

2011–12 season[edit]

Younès Belhanda (MHSC vs Arsenal F.C.), 18 September 2012, in the UEFA Champions League.

Following the disappointing campaign, Girard sought to change the team's style of play. One of his changes was to move Belhanda into the playmaker position just behind the striker.[31] To coincide with the position switch, Belhanda was given the number ten shirt.[32] The move was ultimately a success as Belhanda opened the campaign scoring two goals in his first three matches in wins over Auxerre and Rennes.[33][34] On 27 August 2011, in a 2–1 defeat to Lyon, Belhanda received a straight red card after kicking out at Lyon midfielder Miralem Pjanić following a challenge.[35][36] He returned to the team following the September international break and, after two matches, scored his third goal of the season in a 2–2 draw with Bordeaux.[37] Two weeks later, Belhanda scored and assisted on a goal in a 3–1 away win against Caen.[38][39] For his performances in the month of November, Belhanda was awarded the UNFP Player of the Month award.[40]

Belhanda went scoreless for the next two months, though he did assist on an Olivier Giroud goal in a 3–1 win over Sochaux.[41] On 21 December, in his final match before departing the club to participate in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, Belhanda scored the opening goal in a league match against Evian in the 47th minute. Minutes later, he assisted on a goal by Giroud to put Montpellier up 2–1. However, Montpellier were unable to retain the lead after conceding three second-half goals to lose 4–2.[42] Belhanda returned to the team on 4 February 2012 appearing as a substitute in a 1–0 win over Brest.[43] Fours days later, Belhanda returned to the starting lineup against Châteauroux in the Coupe de France. In the match, he scored the final goal in a 2–0 win.[44] On 11 February, he converted a penalty in a 3–0 win against Ajaccio.[45] A week later, against first place Paris Saint-Germain, Belhanda scored the equalizing goal just before half-time to draw the match at 1–1.[46] The match eventually finished 2–2 after Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain each scored a second-half goal.[47]

On 20 May 2012, for the first time in the club's history, Montpellier HSC won the Ligue 1 title.[48]

Dynamo Kyiv[edit]

On 1 July 2013, Ukrainian club Dynamo Kyiv announced the signing of Belhanda on a 5-year contract.[49] Media reports had previously linked him with a move to Premier League sides Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Aston Villa.[50] Belhanda was assigned shirt number 90. His contract with Montpellier was due to expire in June 2014, with his transfer fee believed to be in the region of €10 million.[49]

He made his debut for Dynamo in a 1–1 draw against Volyn Lutsk coming on as a substitute on the 65th minute. On 4 August 2013, Belhanda scored his first goal for Dynamo Kyiv against Shakhtar Donetsk making it 1–1.[citation needed] Belhanda scored in his Europa League debut against FK Aktobe which would be the winning goal for Dynamo Kyiv.[citation needed] Belhanda scored a hat-trick against Metalurh Donetsk with Dynamo Kyiv winning the match 9–1.[citation needed].

In the 2014/15 season, Belhanda helped Dynamo reached the 1/4 final of the UEFA Europa League, getting eliminated by ACF Fiorentina 1-3 on aggregate, as well as winning the Ukrainian Premier League and the Ukrainian Cup. In the 2015/16 season, Belhanda helped Dynamo reach the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 16 years.

Schalke 04 (loan)[edit]

On 5 January 2016, Belhanda was loaned out to German club FC Schalke 04 until the end of the season.[51]

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Montpellier
Dynamo Kyiv

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Belhanda Younès". Dynamo Kiev. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Younès Belhanda, la nouvelle pépite". Fédération Internationale de Football Association (in French). 22 September 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Belhanda, l'étoile filante de Montpellier". La Provence (in French). 23 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "12 millions d'euros pour Younes Belhanda.". MagLor (in French). 27 October 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Belhanda, l'étoile montante de Montpellier". La Provence (in French). 24 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "Montpellier B Saison Football: 2007/2008". Stat2Foot (in French). Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Montpellier B Saison Football: 2008/2009". Stat2Foot (in French). Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "Montpellier v. Nantes Coupe Gambardella Match Report". French Football Federation (in French). 8 May 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Younès Belhanda passe Professionnel". Montpellier HSC (in French). 27 July 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "In with the new for Gerets’ Morocco". Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Montpellier v. Paris Saint-Germain Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 8 August 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "Marseille v. Montpllier Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 19 September 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "Valenciennes v. Montpllier Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 11 November 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Monaco v. Montpllier Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 13 January 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Lens v. Montpllier Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 20 January 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Győr v. Montpellier Report". Union of European Football Associations. 29 July 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "Montpellier v. Győr Report". Union of European Football Associations. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Montpellier prolonge deux grands espoirs". FootMercato (in French). 19 August 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "Montpellier v. Caen Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 22 August 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  20. ^ "Montpellier v. Sochaux Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 16 October 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  21. ^ "Montpellier v. Auxerre Match Report". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). 18 December 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  22. ^ "Montpellier et Marseille en finale!" (in French). French Football Federation. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  23. ^ "Une finale Olympique de Marseille – Montpellier Hérault SC" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  24. ^ "Montpellier v. Paris Saint-Germain Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 18 January 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "Late, late goal takes Montpellier through". Ligue de Football Professionnel. 18 January 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  26. ^ "L'OM conserve son trophée!" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 23 April 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  27. ^ "Taiwo paye sa Coupe!" (in French). RMC Sport. 23 April 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  28. ^ "Marseille v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 23 April 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  29. ^ "Paris Saint-Germain v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 13 March 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  30. ^ "Montpellier v. Lille Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  31. ^ "A Little Case of Deja-vu in Ligue 1". Four Added On. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  32. ^ "Younès Belhanda, le soliste à la baguette" (in French). Aujourd’hui le Maroc. 19 September 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  33. ^ "Montpellier v. Auxerre Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 6 August 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  34. ^ "Montpellier v. Rennes Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 21 August 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  35. ^ "Lyon v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 27 August 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  36. ^ "Lyon hand Montpellier first defeat" (in French). ESPN. 27 August 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  37. ^ "Bordeaux v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 1 October 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  38. ^ "Caen v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  39. ^ "Ten-man Montpellier convince at Caen As of". Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  40. ^ "Younes Belhanda : En route pour la gloire...". National Union of Professional Footballers. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  41. ^ "Sochaux v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  42. ^ "Evian v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  43. ^ "Montpellier v. Brest Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 4 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  44. ^ "Châteauroux v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  45. ^ "Montpellier v. Ajaccio Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 11 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  46. ^ "Paris Saint-Germain v. Montpellier Report" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  47. ^ "PSG draws 2–2 with Montpellier in French league" (in French). Sports Illustrated. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  48. ^ "Montpellier wins French title for first time". Sports Illustrated (in French). 20 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  49. ^ a b "Transfer news: Younes Belhanda signs for Dynamo Kiev from Montpellier". Sky Sports. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  50. ^ "Europe: Montpellier receive offers for Tottenham and Newcastle target Younes Belhanda". Sky Sports. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  51. ^ FC Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 1904 e.V. (publisher) (6 January 2015). "Younes Belhanda joins Schalke until the end of the season". FC Schalke 04 (schalke04.de). Retrieved 6 January 2015. 

External links[edit]