In­ter­view Ben­rahma set for top flight – with or with­out Brent­ford

Winger says he is flat­tered by in­ter­est from Premier League clubs but wants to make step up with his cur­rent em­ploy­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Football - By Matt Law

Said Ben­rahma has in­sisted he is only fo­cused on help­ing Brent­ford reach the Premier League, even though the winger ap­pears to be head­ing for the top flight with or with­out them.

Brent­ford’s au­to­matic pro­mo­tion destiny is no longer in their own hands af­ter their 1-0 de­feat by Stoke City left sec­ond-placed West Bromwich Al­bion with a one-point advantage.

Brent­ford must beat Barns­ley at home tonight and hope that West Brom slip up against Queens Park Rangers to claim the sec­ond au­to­matic spot and avoid the play-offs.

With a host of Premier League clubs watch­ing him, 24-year-old Ben­rahma’s fu­ture may not be tied to Brent­ford reach­ing the Premier League for the first time.

“I don’t look at it as my destiny, but it has al­ways been a tar­get to play in the Premier League and I re­ally wish to play there with Brent­ford,” Ben­rahma said.

Asked if that rep­re­sented a prom­ise that he would stay if they were pro­moted, Ben­rahma said: “For the mo­ment,

I am only fo­cused on Brent­ford.”

Ben­rahma has scored 17 Cham­pi­onship goals, as­sist­ing in a fur­ther eight, to at­tract the at­ten­tion of, among oth­ers, Chelsea, Ar­se­nal, West Ham United, As­ton Villa, who tried to sign him last sum­mer, New­cas­tle United and newly-pro­moted Leeds United.

“I was re­ally flat­tered [to see my­self linked with those clubs], but, at the same time, I am so fo­cused about get­ting out of the Cham­pi­onship with Brent­ford that I do not pay too much at­ten­tion,” he said.

Break­through: Said Ben­rahma has shown his Premier League cre­den­tials in a stand­out sea­son as Brent­ford aim for pro­mo­tion

An­other source of con­fi­dence is the way in which Jack Gre­al­ish, James Mad­di­son, Har­vey Barnes and Emil­iano Buen­dia have all made a rapid im­pact af­ter reach­ing the Premier League.

“Of course, it is giv­ing me con­fi­dence, but, at the same time, ev­ery­one has their own destiny and so I’m just fo­cused on my­self and I don’t want to com­pare my­self with other play­ers,” he said.

It is clear Ben­rahma feels he owes a debt of thanks to Brent­ford and their man­ager, Thomas Frank. He had at­tracted lit­tle at­ten­tion dur­ing the early part of his ca­reer in France and Brent­ford had no strong com­pe­ti­tion for his £1.5 mil­lion sig­na­ture af­ter the winger’s sta­tis­tics, on loan at Ligue 2 club Chateau­roux, had caught the at­ten­tion of their data an­a­lysts.

“My pro­gres­sion is due to Brent­ford. They have given me a lot of con­fi­dence and it’s be­cause of that I am where I am today,” he said.

Frank has al­lowed Ben­rahma to ex­press him­self on the pitch and also pro­vided sup­port off it af­ter the player’s fa­ther died in Jan­uary.

“He was re­ally sup­port­ive when I lost my fa­ther,” Ben­rahma said. “There was no pres­sure af­ter the death of my fa­ther. I came back be­cause I wanted to play and my fa­ther would have wanted me to play. I was re­ally mo­ti­vated and be­cause the club and the trainer did not give me any pres­sure.”

Ben­rahma’s tricky style has earned com­par­isons with Eden Haz­ard and he added: “I had this style of play­ing, but in France I was not so con­fi­dent to play this way. But Frank gives me con­fi­dence to play like this and have this style.”

Frankie and Benny have cer­tainly been good for each other and Brent­ford will be hop­ing both get the chance to have a crack at the big time with the west Lon­don club.

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