Qatar is set to become the focal point of world football over the next couple of years, hosting major tournaments such as the the 2022 World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup. Understandably, as a result, there has been a lot of recent attention put on the Qatar Stars League to bring in big names to help make it seem like a modern hub for global football. This has worked considerably well, with the likes of Xavi, Raul and Gabriel Batistuta all having turned out in the league in recent years. There is currently a wide mix of stars playing in the Qatar Stars League including World Cup winners, unheralded superstars and Champions League winners. With that in mind, who are the best players in the Qatar Stars League today?
6 best players in the Qatar Stars League
Mehdi Benatia (Al-Duhail)
A resolute defender for his entire career, there isn’t much that Mehdi Benatia hasn’t achieved in world football. The Morocco international has enjoyed various levels of success with both Juventus and Bayern Munich before moving to Qatari side Al-Duhail in 2019.
The big-money move has paid off for Benatia who played a pivotal role in his side winning both the Stars League and the Qatar Emir Cup in 2019. Using his vast experience, Benatia has helped proved a veteran’s knowledge to his team being a rock in the middle of defence and helping deal with the vast eclectic mix of attacking styles found throughout the league.
Sofiane Hanni (Al-Gharafa)
There are a host of Algerian players in the Qatar Stars League but few are as recognized as flamboyant attacking midfielder Sofiane Hanni. The former Anderlecht star has been very much at home in Qatar scoring 14 goals in 33 appearances for Al-Gharafa since joining in 2019.
Hanni has formed an excellent partnership in midfield with compatriot Adlene Guedioura providing teams with a consistent dose of pressure that is hard for defences to cope with. His rich form earned him a place in the 2019/20 Stars League Team of the Season, proving that Hanni is still very much at the top of his game in Qatar.
Baghdad Bounedjah (Al Sadd)
There are very few footballers who are as deadly in a domestic league as Baghdad Bounedjah in Qatar. The Algerian powerhouse has proven to be a nightmare for any defence to handle since joining Al Sadd in 2016 scoring a staggering 107 goals in just 92 games. His best return was 58 goals in 2018 – a feat unmatched by any player (including Messi, Ronaldo and Lewandowski!) in the world that calendar year.
With excellent finishing, a strong frame and deadly in the air; it’s amazing to think that bigger clubs have yet to sign Bounedjah. His record has transcended onto the international scene too having scored 17 goals in 38 games for Algeria and winning the Algerian Player of the Year award in 2018 ahead of more established stars such as Yacine Brahimi and Riyad Mahrez. A real diamond in the rough.
Gabriel Mercado (Al-Rayyan)
A quiet and unassuming part of the team, Gabriel Mercado has proven to be a valuable asset for Al Rayyan since joining in 2019. The former Sevilla star is as versatile as they come able to play as a full-back, centre back or a defensive midfielder slotting in wherever he’s needed.
With excellent composure and passing, Mercado has been a constant presence in the Qatar Stars League helping both thwart and start attacks within just a few seconds. The former Argentina international has also developed a taste for scoring notching up 3 goals in 27 appearances – scoring at the double the rate he did in La Liga for his former side.
Santi Cazorla (Al-Sadd)
Considering that his career looked to be over a couple of years ago, Santi Cazorla has enjoyed a renaissance in the twilight of his career. After reinvigorating himself at Villarreal after leaving Arsenal, Cazorla found himself a hot commodity and sealed a big-money move to Qatar’s Al Sadd in the summer of 2020.
Still retaining much of his excellent passing skills and set-piece abilities, Cazorla has been carving up teams left, right and centre scoring 6 goals in 7 games as well as notching up 9 assists. If he keeps this form up, he is likely to be earning yearly accolades for the next few seasons to come.
Yacine Brahimi (Al Rayyan)
When Yacine Brahimi left Porto in the summer of 2019 on a free, the Algerian playmaker was being watched by many of Europe’s top clubs. He rejected these sides for a move to Qatari side Al Rayyan as their marquee player for the season ahead. Since then, he has not looked back terrorizing defences and scoring freely as and when he feels like it.
In his first full season in the Qatar Stars LEague, Brahimi scored 15 goals in 22 games ending up as joint top scorer for the season and a spot in the 2019/20 team of the season. The Algerian superstar has carried this form into the next season and has proven that you don’t need to be in Europe to still be a deadly force in world football.
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