Eyebrows were certainly raised on deadline day when Anderlecht announced the signing of Islam Slimani from Brest. The club’s hunt for a striker had seemingly ended with the Algerian veteran who had managed to score just twice all season. Fast forward a month, and Anderlecht’s decision has certainly paid off.
The 34-year-old has had an instant impact for the side, leading from the front and getting the fans on board. Body language would suggest that Slimani is taking this chance with both hands and enjoying it, with his work rate and off the ball work really standing out. He is also starting to find the net again. After his two goals against Standard Liege at the weekend the striker has scored three goals in four league games, with one assist in the Europa Conference League as well. He is averaging 71 minutes per goal, a remarkable development after his two in 18 for Brest.
The former Leicester, Sporting and AS Monaco striker is only on a short term deal, but many are beginning to speculate that Anderlecht will give the striker another deal in the summer. Since Slimani joined, the side have only lost once (away to Ludogorets) and not at all in the league. The veteran striker is working well with the young attackers supporting him, such as Francis Amuzu, Anders Dreyer and Yari Verschaeren. While not blest with much pace, its the speed of though that has stood out from Slimani. He moves the ball into the feet of the playmakers, helping Anderlecht in their transitions. Furthermore, when he loses the ball he instantly works hard to try and win it back. This enders him to a fanbase that has begun to get behind new head coach Brian Riemer.
Anderlecht face Gent this Sunday, another clash with a side chasing European football. Slimani will be in the limelight once again with a chance to keep up his recent run of form. Jesper Fredberg, Anderlecht’s sporting director, certainly deserves plenty of credit for going for the Algerian veteran on deadline day.