Yacine Brahimi: African footballer of the year profile

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AFOTY nominee Yacine Brahimi

Yacine Brahimi is bidding to become only the second man to retain the BBC African Footballer of the Year trophy, after Nigeria's Jay-Jay Okocha won in 2003 and 2004.

The Algerian has continued his improvement since joining FC Porto from Spain's Granada in July 2014.

"I'm gaining more experience playing against big teams," the 25-year-old told BBC Sport. "This means you learn a lot, and I work very hard every single day to get better."

He must certainly be putting the hours in.

Brahimi impressed during the 2014-15 Champions League campaign, where he completed 42 dribbles prior to the semi-finals.

To put that into context, the figure was only beaten by Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Chelsea's Eden Hazard - with 71 and 51 respectively.

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AFOTY nominee Yacine Brahimi

Brahimi's five goals also helped Porto reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in six years.

Reviving memories of their 1987 European Cup final triumph, the Portuguese side famously beat Bayern Munich when winning the first leg of their quarter-final 3-1 - only to lose the return 6-1.

Champions League form was the highlight in a season where Porto finished league runners-up, with Brahimi scoring seven goals in the Primeira Liga and a career-best 13 overall.

In the off-season, Porto reflected the former France youth international's growing status by boosting his buy-out clause from 50m Euros to 60m.

Although the midfielder has to yet to match last season's goalscoring feats, his form has continued this season, earning several man of the match awards.

Yacine Brahimi in focus
Club: FC Porto Age: 25Left France for Spain in 2012 and starred for Granada.
Born in Paris, Brahimi was a member of the famous Clairefontaine academy alongside Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho.Joined Porto in 2014 after a strong World Cup and was named BBC African footballer of the year last December.

One came in September's Champions League clash with Chelsea when he pulled the strings and had a hand in both Porto goals in yet another impressive home win as the club won their first 19 games at home in 2015.

Even more notably, the graduate of France's respected Clairefontaine academy has now registered seven goals from his first 14 Champions League games.

Coveted by many, Brahimi could be the latest off a lavish Porto production line that has delivered James Rodriguez, Hulk and Radamel Falcao to the world's biggest clubs in recent times.

With a sharp turn, renowned close control and great technique, the effervescent Brahimi can certainly trouble any defence.

"I don't know too many players that can do what he does," Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff said earlier this year.

The extent of his threat was perfectly illustrated as Algeria lost an absorbing Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final to Ivory Coast in February, when the eventual champions targeted the diminutive Brahimi.

He was fouled seven times during the Elephants' 3-1 win, a clear increase on the 3.7 fouls he suffered on average during the pool stage, after Algeria had emerged unscathed from a group of death.

Despite the setback, Brahimi's stock has continued to rise ever since.

Why he should win: Maher Mezahi, BBC Sport, Algeria

"Is there a finer dribbler in Africa than Brahimi? It's doubtful. He also embodies how Algerians like their football played in a land where nutmegs often draw louder cheers than goals. Porto's number '8' is king.

"That's why the attacking midfielder should win the BBC African Footballer of the Year award for a second consecutive year, because his playing style appeals to both fans and the general public.

"In the last two seasons, he has grown into an elite player by incorporating an end product into his repertoire. By way of example, he has already accrued eight goals and six assists in all competitions this year.

"What's more, the Paris-born prodigy has excelled in the Champions League, club football's most elite competition."

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