WISSAM Ben Yedder has sparked a five-club tug-of-war for his services after starring again this season.
Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, Liverpool and Tottenham are all said to be monitoring the 29-year-old Monaco striker, who has scored 19 goals in all competitions.
But Ben Yedder came up the hard way, playing on the streets in the most dangerous area of Paris.
His best friend was another immigrant son Riyad Mahrez, who would go on to become a Premier League star for both Leicester City and Manchester City.
The £40million-rated forward was born to Tunisian parents, but opted to represent France – making his international debut in 2018.
His epic rise hasn’t been easy though.
A ROUGH CHILDHOOD
Being born in Sarcelles was the making of the man and it gave Ben Yedder the drive to succeed.
Not many mange to break away from the gangs and crime that surrounded his upbringing, but he was determined.
“I had a pretty difficult childhood,” Ben Yedder told Uefa.com.
“Not many people succeed, there are lots of talented young players and lots of players with huge potential and so it’s hard to come looking for players there.
“It’s really tough because there are lots of players who, unfortunately, just lack a bit of success.”
HE PLAYED FUTSAL
Before he turned professional, Ben Yedder honed his talents and technique in the unforgiving futsal world.
He played for Garges Djibson in the Championnat de France de Futsal Division One, as well as the French national team and under-21s.
Fifth-tier team UJA Maccabi Paris Metropole saw his potential and took a punt on him and he soon moved to his first professional club Toulouse after that.
“In futsal, I picked up specific technical skills,” Ben Yedder said in an interview with Bleacher Report.
“It also really improved my reaction time. In terms of footing and balance, too, futsal teaches you a lot. And most importantly, you learn to be very clinical in front of goal.
“These skills are what really helped me when I first started out in professional football.
“Whether it is in duels with defenders or against keepers, I use a lot of what I learnt and perfected playing futsal all those years ago.”
IN THE GHETTO WITH MAHREZ
Ben Yedder and Mahrez knocked about on the same estate, playing a brand of street football to pass the days by.
He looks back on those times fondly, as well asmhow they’ve both gone on to succeed since.
“It’s great to look back at when we used to play in the neighbourhood, seeing mum shouting and also how we grew up playing in football tournaments between the estates,” Ben Yedder said.
“We’d go to another estate and play them. Also, seeing yourself progress bit by bit – those are all happy memories.”
CLASSIC TWITTER TROLL
Over the years, former Sevilla star Ben Yedder has taken potshots at Arsenal, Man U, and even A.C. Milan on social.
He’s certainly not afraid to say what he feels, while rubbing salt onto the wounds of suffering footy fans.
When Sevilla fought back from three goals down to earn a 3-3 draw against Liverpool in 2017 he tweeted, ‘hope @acmilan watched it’ referencing the 2005 Champions League final.
After knocking Manchester United out of the 2018 Champions League, scoring twice at Old Trafford, Ben Yedder was quick to share a fan’s tweet that predicted the Red Devils fate.
He humorously captioned the tweet: “He knew even before me.”
Arsenal’s Emirates Cup also came under fire, with Ben Yedder taking offence to the competition’s rules that meant the Gunners won the trophy, even though Sevilla won both their games.
He jokingly tweeted in 2017, ‘We win 2/2 but we are not first. Give us back the cup Arsenal ahaha.’
Then, when one fan decided to have a pop at him, Ben Yedder got even funnier.
He wrote: ‘Ahaha. Don’t be mad bro. You may get your revenge in Champions Le…… Oh wait.’ Of course, Arsenal weren’t in the Champions League.
WEST HAM MISSED OUT
The Hammers passed up the opportunity to sign Ben Yedder for just £8m in 2016 for one very simple reason.
They thought he was too small (he’s 5ft 6in) and wouldn’t be strong enough for the rigours of English football.
Given that he’s scored Champions League doubles against Liverpool and Man United in the past in the highest level of club football, that decision now appears to have backfired.
The Hammers could be left ruing missing out on Ben Yedder, especially if he stars against them next season.