Written by Matt Ochs in 2013
Edited by Camil Craciunescu in 2015
Midfielder, #19, 23 Years Old
One of the more interesting teams to watch in the 2014 World Cup is sure to be Algeria. Often overlooked because of the relative weakness of the African teams (other than Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire obviously), the Algerian team consists mostly of players who either play professionally in France or who were trained under the youth programs of the French soccer leagues. Algerian midfielder Saphir Sliti Taïder is no exception to this rule. His defensive intensity along with his ability to take set-pieces and hold on to the ball make the Inter Milan youngster a clear choice for Algeria’s player to watch in the World Cup next summer (Who Scored, BBC).
Image courtesy of http://footplus.tn/etranger/saphir-taider-a-choisi-de-porter-les-couleurs-de-lalgerie.html
Born in Castres, France in 1992, Taïder spent his entire youth career with French teams. Starting at age 6, he was a member of the Castres FC academy, but as his skill progressed he was able to move better-known clubs Albi and Grenoble (Soccer Way). Though these clubs generally aren’t known for producing top-tier soccer talent, Taïder’s skills were noticed as he was asked to be a member of the French U18 team in 2010. The following two years, Taïder was a member of the French U19 and U20 teams respectively, which make his decision to play for Algeria all the more interesting. Despite his undoubtedly French youth career, Taïder chose to play for Algeria because that is his mother’s country of origin. To make his story even more compelling, his older brother Nabil Taïder plays for Tunisia despite also having a French upbringing. This is evidence of the fact that teams from the Mahgreb countries generally acquire their talent from the structure of the French youth system.
Taïder began his professional career at Grenoble in the 2010-2011 season, tallying one goal in 26 appearances (Soccer Way). This solid debut season, along with clear evidence of the natural skill he possessed, led Serie A club Bologna to purchase the midfielder the following year. After an impressive few years for the Rossoblù’s, Taïder was recently purchased by Italian giant Inter Milan for a fee of $7.3 million (BBC). In fact, it is estimated that Taïder’s current market value is approximately €9 million, but Inter seem in no rush to sell the promising young midfielder (Transfer Market). His ability to win tackles and move the ball around the pitch have made him a hot commodity in the global soccer market, drawing interest this past summer from English titan Manchester United (Klein). In August 2014, Taïder joined Premier League side Southampton on loan from Inter, but was loaned off again to Serie A side Sassuolo in September because he “failed to live up to the high level of commitment expected of Southampton players” (BBC Sport). Since joining Sassuolo this season, Taïder has 2 goals and 2 assists in 19 games played.
Though still young, Taïder plays the game with ferocity and intelligence beyond his years. To put his measurable on-the-field impact into perspective, below are graphics that show Taïder’s tackling and passing success rates as well as his overall performance score. One important statistic to note is his 87% pass completion rate, which rivals midfield legends Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard (Ramey).
Images courtesy of http://www.squawka.com/news/2013/08/26/inter-sign-combative-21-year-old-midfielder-once-linked-with-man-united-transfer-scouting-report/2013082618545
Why Taider is a Player to Watch
Taïder’s impact for the Algerian team in Brazil will be evident on and off the pitch. On the training ground and in the dressing room, Taïder brings a sense of work ethic and grit that will be essential for Algeria. At his debut press conference for Inter Milan, Taïder explained that “Without hard work you don’t achieve anything, that’s why it’s important to work every day and improve” (Ramey). The fact that such a young player understands the value of hard work on and off the pitch ensures that Taïder will have a very successful career for years to come. In fact, many of Taider’s supporters attribute him being “so highly rated in Serie A” to his motor and work ethic (Ramey). Refer to the video below for a few examples of how Taïder’s effort on the pitch helps his team in crucial situations.
Video- “Saphir Taider: Pass, Move, and Tackle”
2014 World Cup Performance
Algeria were drawn into a challenging but not insurmountable group for the World Cup in Brazil. In their first game against group favorites Belgium in Belo Horizonte, a first half Sofiane Feghouli penalty was cancelled by a Marouane Fellaini header and Dries Mertens shot in the second half to lead to their first loss of the campaign. In the second game against South Korea in Porto Alegre, Algeria really let their offensive firepower show as they raced to a 3-0 lead in the first half before finishing off the game 4-2. They only needed a draw with Russia to send them into the second round and accomplished just that with Islam Slimani’s controversial equalizer (Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev complained of a green laser being flashed in his eye in the preceding free kick) in Curitiba to seal a 1-1 draw. Unfortunately, this progression meant that they were drawn into the Round of 16 with heavy World Cup-favorites Germany. After an impressive, resolute defensive performance by the Algerians kept the Germans at bay in the first 90, the favorites found their spark and a 2-0 lead in extra time courtesy of Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil. Abdelmoumane Djabou found a consolation equalizer for the underdogs but it wasn’t enough as Germany progressed.
This tournament was very significant for the Algerian team, who progressed to the knockout round of the World Cup for the first time in their history. As for Taïder’s influence in the World Cup, he started the games against Belgium and Germany, but failed to make a meaningful contribution.
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Continue on to Group H – Belgium: Vincent Kompany
Group H – Republic of Korea: Sung Yong Ki
Group H – Russia: Alan Dzagoev
Click here to return to the Confederation of African Football page.
Learn about Algeria’s National Anthem
How to cite this article: “Algeria: Saphir Sliti Taïder” Written by Matt Ochs (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).
“Algeria Midfielder Saphir Taider Joins Inter Milan.” BBC Sport. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/23778300>.
“Algeria- S. Taider.” Soccer Way. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/23778300>.
Jones, Gary. “Manchester United Interest in Bologna Star Saphir Taider Confirmed.” Daily Star. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/329972/Manchester-United-interest-in-Bologna-star-Saphir-Taider-confirmed>.
Klein, Benjamin. “Red Devils Smart to Pursue Saphir Taider.” Bleacher Report. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1725220-manchester-united-transfer-news-red-devils-smart-to-pursue-saphir-taider>.
“Market Value- Development: Saphir Taider.” Transfermarkt. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.transfermarkt.com/en/saphir-taider>.
Pogorzelski, Kevin. “Taider Transfer Officially Announced by Inter.” Forza Italian Football. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://forzaitalianfootball.com/2013/08/taider-transfer-officially-announced-by-inter/>.
Ramey, Joel. “Inter Sign Combative Midfielder Once Linked with Man United: Transfer Scouting Report.” Squawka. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.squawka.com/news/2013/08/26/inter-sign-combative-21-year-old-midfielder-once-linked-with-man-united-transfer-scouting-report/2013082618545>.
“Saphir Sliti Taider.” Who Scored. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.whoscored.com/Players/85692/>.
“Saphir Taider: Pass, Move and Tackle.” Youtube. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12glg0RPO6I#t=68>.
“Transfer deadline day: Saphir Taider leaves Southampton.” BBC Sport. N.p., n.c. Web. 9 Mar. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28992409>