30-GOAL STRIKER LINKED WITH LEEDS COULD BE XAVI’S FIRST BARCELONA SIGNING

In his final interview at Al Sadd, new Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez did little to silence speculation linking Qatar Stars League talisman and former Leeds United target Baghdad Bounedjah with a shock switch to Camp Nou. 

“In all fairness, Bounedjah can play for any club. He has the potential to evolve at the biggest clubs in Europe,” 41-year-old Xavi said, via Fennec Football

“Before coming to Al Sadd, honestly, I didn’t know Baghdad Bounedjah. Now, in my opinion, he’s a top striker. He’s a top number nine.” 

NOT SACKING OLE IS A DISGRACE.

We, like Xavi, may soon have our eyes opened to the talents of a man who, in 2018, outscored Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski to be named the world’s most prolific goalscorer ”.

“Baghdad is doing extraordinary things. Baghdad at Barcelona – what do you want me to tell you? Xavi knows better than I,” Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi told Goal at the weekend. 

“He could be a surprise. He’s made history, he’s scored goals everywhere. He scored the winner in the African Cup of Nations final (in 2019), one of the most important goals in the history of Algerian football.” 

COULD FORMER LEEDS TARGET BAGHDAD BOUNEDJAH FOLLOW XAVI TO BARCELONA?

If you thought 22 goals in 49 international caps was impressive, wait until you hear about Bounedjah’s record at club level.

He scored 30 goals in 27 games during Xavi’s final full season at Al Sadd – but that wasn’t even Bounedjah’s most prolific campaign at the Al Dheeb 

Since joining from Tunisian outfit Etoile Sportive du Sahel in 2015, Bounedjah has found the net 169 times in 165 games. 

And while the standard of sides should be taken into account, it’s hard to imagine Martin Braithwaite or Luuk de Jong finding the net at such a remarkable rate, regardless of the opposition.

Bounedjah was linked with a £6.5 million move to Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United two years ago, via Algerian publication Competition.

Leeds eventually took a punt on Jean-Kevin Augustin instead – a decision that failed to work out for anyone.  

Now, Bounedjah is two years older, two years wiser and, most importantly, knows what it takes to thrive in a Xavi-led team.

A near 30-year-old striker who has spent his entire career outside Europe may not seem like an obvious solution to Barcelona’s problems. But, as Xavi says, Bounedjah has a habit of surprising people.

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