Best Moroccan Players in the Premier League

Morocco has supplied top class footballers to the Premier League for a number of years, but interest in the country exploded when the squad reached the semi finals of the 2022 World Cup.

It’s clearly a nation with some serious talent, but who are the best Moroccan players across the history of the EPL?

10 Greatest Moroccan Players in the EPL History

Hakim Ziyech

Attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech played a crucial part in Morocco’s 2022 World Cup success. Having previously announced his retirement from international football, he came back into the national squad following a change of coach.

Ziyech was born in the Netherlands and that’s where he made his name. While with Ajax, he caught the attention of Chelsea who signed him on a five-year deal in February 2020. The player showed fantastic skill, but could lack consistency and that’s partly why Chelsea loaned him out to Turkish club Galatasaray in 2023.

He’s still a Chelsea employee, so the best may be yet to come as far as Hakim Ziyech and the Premier League are concerned.

Hakim Ziyech
Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea during the Premier League match Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea at City Ground, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 1st January 2022

Mustapha Hadji

Moroccan international midfielder Mustapha Hadji played for two Premier League clubs in his career. He made his name in England with Coventry City, who he joined from Deportivo La Coruna in 1999.

Hadji became a popular player at Coventry, but he couldn’t prevent the club from being relegated in 2001. He then joined Aston Villa and stayed in England for another three years. Mustapha Hadji was an attacking player with great flair, and he scored some important goals during his time in England.

Marouane Chamakh

He was a productive striker in France and for the Moroccan national team, but Marouane Chamakh only showed brief glimpses of his best form while in the English Premier League. Chamakh broke through with Bordeaux, where a solid scoring ratio persuaded Arsenal to sign him in 2010.

The forward showed promise at the Emirates but couldn’t settle and later played for West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City. He was one of the best Moroccans to play here, and it’s a great shame that English fans didn’t see the best of Marouane Chamakh.

Marouane Chamakh
Marouane Chamakh in 2009

Adel Taarabt

A hugely talented and naturally gifted player, Adel Taarabt showed flashes of brilliance without ever quite reaching his full potential. An attacking midfielder who was equally at home out on the left wing, Taarabt began his youth career with Lens in France before he attracted the attention of English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.

He was a precocious talent but struggled to nail down a permanent place in the Spurs side, and he made just nine league appearances in just over two seasons. Taarabt was more effective at Queens Park Rangers, who he joined in 2008. While his new team were in the Championship, the Moroccan flourished at a lower level and, when QPR were promoted in 2011, Adel Taarabt was a more complete player.

Anass Zaroury

Young international left winger Anass Zaroury is the newest Moroccan player in the Premier League. He joined Burnley from Belgian side Charleroi in 2022 and was part of the Clarets squad that won promotion from the Championship in 2022/23.

While Burnley have struggled since returning to the top flight, Zaroury has turned in some impressive performances. He’s a player with huge promise, and it’s hoped that the Premier League gets to see the best of him.

Anass Zaroury
Anass Zaroury

Nayef Aguerd

Centre half Nayef Aguerd joined West Ham United from Rennes in 2022, and he’s quickly adapted to the pace of English football. Injury affected his early days in England, but he returned stronger to become an important part of the Hammers’ defence.

Aguerd also became one of the few Moroccan players to win a major trophy while playing in English football, as he featured in West Ham’s successful Europa Conference League campaign in 2022/23.

Sofyan Amrabat

His performances for Morocco at the 2022 World Cup saw heightened interest in Sofyan Amrabat. The defensive midfielder was already playing in Europe with Serie A side Fiorentina, but his displays in Qatar persuaded Manchester United to take the player on loan.

Amrabat has featured in most of United’s games at the start of the 2023/24 season, and he’s done a reasonable job in an important position. Moroccan fans hope that the club make the loan deal a permanent one so that Sofyan Amrabat can settle and show the Premier League what he’s capable of.

Sofyan Amrabat
29th November 2020. Sofyan Amrabat of during the Serie A match beetween Ac Milan and Acf Fiorentina.

Noureddine Naybet

Central defender Noureddine Naybet spent his final years as a player in the Premier League, and fans in England appreciated how effective he was in his prime. Naybet signed for Tottenham Hotspur from Deportivo La Coruna in 2004 and he would play for two years in North London.

He was a calm presence in the heart of the Spurs defence, and he was dependable when called upon. While the EPL didn’t see the best of him, Noureddine Naybet is a legend of Moroccan football, and he made 115 senior appearances for the national team between 1990 and 2006.

Sofiane Boufal

Sofiane Boufal played for three seasons in English football, helping Southampton to consolidate their place in the Premier League. He played for the Saints as an attacking midfielder and provided some useful assists, even if his team would have liked the player to score more goals.

As a team that traditionally struggled towards the bottom of the EPL table, Boufal formed part of a side who were more comfortable in the top division. He was also part of the squad that reached the final of the EFL Cup in 2017.

Romain Saïss

Defender Romain Saiss was an unsung hero in a Wolverhampton Wanderers side that became highly effective in the Premier League. Many expected Wolves to go straight back down when they were promoted in 2018, but the club are still in the top flight.

Saiss was a dependable figure in a squad that upset many of the big teams in the EPL. He won promotion with Wolves from the Championship in 2017/18, and he stayed for four more seasons before moving to Turkey in 2022.

Spain-Morocco match, Group B, 2018 FIFA World Cup

Final Thoughts

Following that exceptional showing at the 2022 World Cup, English teams have paid more attention to Moroccan football. We’ve previously seen a good number of Moroccan players involved in the EPL, but those figures are set to increase considerably in the near future.

The tournament in Qatar has directly led to the movement of some Moroccan internationals, while others were already employed overseas. This is an emerging hotbed of football, but who will cross over in future years to make their mark on the Premier League?