As of late, more and more soccer players born in France have started opting to play for Algeria in international competitions. These players, who had previously represented Les Blues at youth levels, have decided to transfer allegiances to the CAF side in an effort to feel more closely tied to their roots.
One such player is Houssem Aouar, a French-Algerian midfielder for Lyon. He had previously played for France but announced on Thursday that he is switching allegiances and will now play for the Greens. The 24-year-old midfielder has only been called up by Didier Deschamps once, for a friendly match against Ukraine in 2020.
Being a friendly exhibition, he could easily convert to representing Algeria, his parents' country of origin. The trend that more and more ex-French youth internationals are opting to feature for Algeria on a senior level is likely to continue in the future with additional players following suit given the intense competition within the French team.
Who are the most popular players to have switched international allegiance from France to Algeria?
Bennacer, who was born in France to Algerian parents, played childhood soccer at Arles-Avignon before moving on to the Arsenal development program. Before switching to Algeria in 2016, he played for the French U-18, U-19, and U-20 teams. As a result, he has risen to prominence with the Algerian national team and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player in 2019.
Feghouli started his career in France with Grenoble before moving on to the academy at Valencia. He was born in France to Algerian parents. While he began his career with the French U-21 squad, he eventually made the move to Algeria. He has now been a mainstay on the Algerian national team and was instrumental in their run to the 2014 World Cup.
M'Bolhi, who was also born in France but is of Algerian ancestry, got his start in the sport as a young player with Marseille before moving on to CSKA Sofia. Before making the move to Algeria in 2010, he played for the French U-20 squad. Since then, M'Bolhi has risen to prominence with the Algerian national team, where he was instrumental in the team's successful 2014 World Cup campaign.
Bentaleb, who was born in France to Algerian parents, played youth soccer for Lille before joining Tottenham Hotspur's program. Before making the transfer to Algeria in 2014, he played for the French U-19 and U-20 teams. In the years following, he established himself as a mainstay in the Algerian national team's starting lineup and was instrumental in the team's successful World Cup campaign in 2014.
Ounas, who was born in France to Algerian parents, started his professional career as a young player with Bordeaux before moving to Napoli in 2017. While he was younger, he played for the French U-20 and U-21 teams, but in 2017, he made the transition to Algeria. Ounas has subsequently established himself as a key component of the Algerian national team, and his two goals helped them achieve the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations title.
While Andy Delort was born in France, his ancestry is Algerian and Moroccan. In his early years, he played for Nimes before relocating to Tours. Before joining the Algerian national team in 2019, Delort competed for the French U-20 and U-21 teams. Recently, he scored his first international goal for Algeria in a 2022 World Cup qualification match against Niger.
It's worth noting that while Ishak Belfodil was born in France, he really has Algerian ancestry. He started his career as a young player at Lyon and then moved on to Parma's youth program. Before 2013, Belfodil was a member of the French U-21 squad. Nevertheless, he made the decision to play for Algeria. He has now been a vital cog in the Algerian national team's wheel, helping them lift the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations trophy.