Who is Ishak Belfodil? Meet Everton's unpredictable new attacker once compared to Ibra
The 60-second story
His form has captured the attention of clubs from right across Europe, with Everton set to win the race for his signature
Once considered a highly promising youngster in France, Ishak Belfodil disappeared from the radar for a while but has reinvented himself at Standard Liege since the start of the current campaign. The Algerian has scored 10 goals and provided five assists in just 21 appearances in all competitions this term, with a positional switch from central striker to playmaker having brought out the best in the mercurial talent.
His form has captured the attention of clubs from right across Europe, with Everton set to win the race for his signature. Expectations are bound to be high, particularly given that Steve Walsh, the Toffees' director of football, was responsible for purchasing Belfodil's compatriot Riyad Mahrez at Leicester.
Why you need to know about him
- Date of birth: January 12, 1992
- Place of birth: Mostaganem, Algeria
- Height: 6ft 3in
- Position: Striker
- Club: Standard Liege (21 apps, 10 goals)
- Country: Algeria (13 caps, 2 goals)
Belfodil was considered a rising star at Lyon, not least because he rose from the club's academy just as Karim Benzema was sold to Real Madrid in 2009. Both men have Algerian roots and similar physiques, so it was quite natural for some journalists to wonder if Belfodil could become Benzema's heir.
It wasn't to be, though, largely because the youngster expected to get everything without effort. He didn't work hard enough and, disappointed at being forced to play for the reserves, eventually asked for a move away.
An initial loan spell at Bologna was hugely disappointing, but Belfodil found his feet under Roberto Donadoni at Parma in 2012. "He was like a father to me and gave me a lot of advice," the Algerian reflected in a recent interview with La Derniere Heure. "It was Donadoni who turned me into a professional."
His first few months at Parma were so impressive that Juventus made an offer to sign him in the January window, but Belfodil's attitude changed completely when Parma made it clear that he wasn't for sale. Donadoni subsequently dropped him from the starting line-up, claiming he was distracted and not in the right frame of mind to play.
Inter then swooped to bring him to San Siro in summer 2013, but Belfodil didn't impress and was sent on loan to Livorno, where he failed to score. He returned to Parma a year after departing, but the forward was soon on the move again as the Ducali went bankrupt.
His next destination was Baniyas in Abu Dhabi, where he remained for a year before heading back to Europe with Standard Liege. He's now enjoying the best spell of his entire career: Belfodil netted on his debut and has only improved since, thriving as both a creator and convertor of chances in a free role behind the striker.
Belfodil possesses subtle technical skills despite being tall (6ft 3in) and powerfully built
Compared to Zlatan Ibrahimovic by youth coach Robert Valette, Belfodil possesses subtle technical skills despite being tall (6ft 3in) and powerfully built. He's also strong in the air and an accurate crosser of the ball, while his free-kick technique has improved significantly in recent times.
As far as his contributions on the field are concerned, the Algerian can be selfish and has been known to spurn simply chances every now and then
The 25-year-old has been inconsistent throughout his career, and he's also been criticised for his attitude on and off the pitch. Belfodil has admitted to such shortcomings, acknowledging that the fact he "wanted to get everything immediately" made it difficult for the forward to fight for his place at any given club. His willingness to leave Standard after just a few months is a case in point – Belfodil has never shied away from an opportunity to better himself.
As far as his contributions on the field are concerned, the Algerian can be selfish and has been known to spurn simple chances every now and then.
"Belfodil is one of the best players to wear Standard's shirt in the last decade," says La Derniere Heure journalist Kevin Sauvage. "Even when there's a feeling that he's having a poor game, he suddenly comes up with an incredible move or scores."
Did you know...
Chelsea invited Belfodil for a trial in 2008 – but he opted to visit Lyon first and, hugely impressed with the French side's facilities, promptly cancelled his trip to Stamford Bridge.
What happens next?
Belfodil represents an exciting and unpredictable gamble for Everton; if his time at Standard is anything to go by, the Algerian could be a major hit at Goodison Park.
On the other hand, a few poor games at the start of his Premier League career could destroy his confidence, with Belfodil's track record showing that he doesn't tend to stay in one place for too long. Anything is possible.