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Malaga starlet En-Nesyri earns surprise World Cup call-up

Malaga starlet En-Nesyri earns surprise World Cup call-up

It may not have been the domestic campaign he was hoping for, but young Malaga forward Youssef En-Nesyri is now headed for the World Cup after being called up for Morocco as a late replacement for defender Badr Banoun.

Despite being Morocco’s captain for the African Nations Championship, Banoun lost his place in the final 23-man squad for Russia as coach Herve Renard opted to accommodate an extra attacker.

The Fez-born striker, who became Malaga’s first-choice forward at the turn of the year, scored a total of four goals in 25 appearances this year during a campaign in which his side finished rock bottom.

En-Nesyri, 21, broke into the first team after a successful preseason under Juande Ramos ahead of the 2016-17 season. He scored six goals over the summer, earning him a contract extension and a promotion to the first-team set-up.

The Moroccan scored his first professional goal in September 2016, netting the winner in a 2–1 home victory against Eibar after coming on as a substitute for Charles, but only sporadic appearances, mainly off the bench, would follow for the remainder of that campaign.

However, this year, after a goal drought on the part of the Costa del Sol team, En-Nesyri was forced into the spotlight, usurping the likes of Borja Baston and Adalberto Penaranda.

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Best known for his raw pace, coach Jose Gonzalez also sought to make use of his aerial prowess as his team favoured a more direct approach but ultimately he couldn’t save them from relegation.

En-Nesyri’s sights will now be firmly set on 25 June, when his Morocco side take on his adopted home nation of Spain.