At Liverpool we are currently blessed to have two of the greatest African wingers of all time in the forms of the outstanding Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané. Those two however have not been the only pacey forwards to have made the journey from Africa to Anfield.
Fresh in the Liverpool hot seat in 2012, new manager Brendan Rodgers wanted to move quickly and revamp the squad he had inherited off Kenny Dalglish — after the struggles of the previous few seasons, it simply needed a new lease of life.
He began with the tried and trusted method, with his first two additions bringing in Fabio Borini from Roma and Joe Allen from Swansea, two players he had worked with before in South Wales and experienced success with.
His third signing appeared from nowhere as the Northern Irishman plucked an untested 24-year-old fresh from the Eredivisie, an unknown quantity called Oussama Assaidi.
The winger, who scored 20 goals in 68 matches for Heerenveen, was snapped up for what looked at the time to be a bargain deal of just £2.4m. Despite being born in Morocco, the winger grew up in the Netherlands and spent two years playing regularly in the top flight. In that time he was also called up to the national team for the first time.
So when he arrived at Anfield he was an almost unknown entity to many supporters despite a lot of hype surrounding his transfer — the Reds fought off competition in the summer of 2012 to secure his signature.
Rodgers claimed the Moroccan fit the Liverpool style of play, but he unfortunately failed to make much of an impact in his debut season. He was limited to just six starts across the campaign and only made another six appearances off the bench, failing to score in any of those matches.
A lack of game time was clearly an issue, so it came to no surprise that the attacker was loaned out ahead of the start of the 2013/14 season. He remained in the Premier League as he signed for Mark Hughes’s Stoke City.Embed from Getty Images
He featured in 19 matches for the Potters and hit the headlines in England for the first time after scoring a stunning winner against Chelsea. He scored four more for the Staffordshire side before returning to Merseyside. He looked to be staying at Anfield for the 2014/15 campaign before Stoke once again came calling on deadline day.
Another season long loan at the Bet365 Stadium was on the cards. He made 11 appearances in the first half of the campaign before the Reds recalled him and subsequently sold him to Dubai-based side Al Ahli Club for £4.7m.
At a time when our attacking three was made up of Borini, Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli, the question of whether the club let Assaidi go to soon must be asked. Could he have played a key part in the squad that season, with pace and creativity severely lacking from our front line?
It did not work out for the Moroccan in Dubai and he was again on the move after just one season as he switched the middle east for a return to the country he grew up in. He joined FC Twente in late 2016 when he revealed he had only gone to Dubai for the salary and had ambitions to return to the Premier League.Embed from Getty Images
Unfortunately for the Moroccan, a return to England has yet to come to fruition. A thigh injury cut short the remainder of the 2016/17 season and, despite a good second campaign in Holland where he scored six goals in 25 matches, his career just failed to catch a break.
Following Twente’s relegation to the Eerste Divisie, Assaidi made just 11 appearances before leaving the club in 2019. To date he is yet to sign for another club — a disappointing story of a much sought-after player in the past.
The 31-year-old will surely look back at his time at Anfield with frustration and disappointment as a combination of a lack of game time and not being given time to settle ended his Liverpool career before it could even really begin.
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