Amine Harit: 5 things to know about Schalke and Morocco starlet
When signing exciting young attacking midfielder Amine Harit from French club Nantes last summer, Schalke recruited a player expected to bring the Veltins Arena faithful to their feet. He did that and more over the course of a memorable debut campaign in the top flight that brought him the Bundesliga Rookie of the Season award by Tag Heuer.
Allow bundesliga.com to present five background facts about the France-born, Morocco international starlet.
1) Like a duck to water
Born in Pontoise, northwest of Paris, Harit was a talented swimmer as a child. His father's influence imbued a love for the pool and until the age of 14, the budding footballer was also part of a swimming club.
Harit participated in competitions every weekend at home and abroad but football took over for good when he joined Nantes as a 15-year-old.
"It was good but there's no comparison with football," the attacking midfielder told L’Équipe when discussing his aquatic past. "For me, there's no better sport than football."
Watch: First December Rookie of the Month, now Rookie of the Season!
2) Destined for Germany
According to one of his first coaches, Harit was already "super talented" at the age of six. A couple of years later he spent three months at Paris Saint-Germain but long trips to and from the French capital proved too gruelling.
The silky dribbler had to be patient once he moved west from Paris club Red Star to Nantes, and before leaving for the UEFA European U-19 Championship 2016 in Germany, he had yet to make his senior debut.
Harit was a revelation at that competition though, providing quality service for PSG star Kylian Mbappe and RB Leipzig striker Jean-Kevin Augustin as France stormed to the title.
The then-Nantes attacker – who had only just scraped a place in the tournament squad – thrived in the limelight. He set up two goals in the final as France beat Italy 4-0 at Hoffenheim's Rhein-Neckar-Arena and was also named in the team of the tournament.
4) Moroccan at heart
Although born in France, Harit is of Moroccan heritage, with both his parents hailing from Casablanca. The svelte attacking midfielder switched his allegiances from the country of his birth to Morocco in September 2017, explaining that it was "a choice made by the heart".
"I spoke for a long time with my parents and my advisors," he told jeuneafrique, explaining the decision. "I have a very close relationship with Morocco and it was a choice made by the heart ... I speak Arabic, and even though I grew up in France, Morocco has always been a part of me ... It's the most difficult choice I've had to make in my career so far."
It has proved a wise decision: Harit is in the Atlas Lions' squad for the 2018 World Cup (and when you consider that Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman missed out on the France squad, the choice looks all the more prescient), and will come up against Iran, Portugal and Spain in Group B in the country's first outing since 1998. With Morocco also bidding to host the 2026 tournament – by which point Harit will be 28 – expect the Schalke man to be a feature of future international showpieces.
5) Agent Provocateur
Even before arriving in Germany, Harit had pointed to his tricky dribbling abilities as one of his strong suits. "People could think I'm arrogant, but that's not the case at all," he told L’Equipe. "I've a bit of a provocative style of play."
Harit proved provocative in his first season in Germany, his in-box wizardry drawing three penalties from opposition defenders and creating a further four goals for his colleagues.
Those dribbling abilities – and searing pace – have been deployed centrally since the switch to Gelsenkirchen, with Harit usually playing as one of two attacking midfielders in Tedesco's preferred 3-4-2-1 set-up, providing more space for his impish talent to thrive.
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