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
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.