Football News

Amine Gouiri: France’s prolific U21 forward reveals “pride” in switching international allegiance

By Harry Edwards

Published: 15:39, 27 September 2023

Amine Gouiri has confirmed that he will be representing Algeria at senior international level, making the switch from France.

Born just south of Lyon, Gouiri rose through the ranks of France’s youth system, representing Les Bleus in various age groups from U16s to U21s. He burst onto the scene, especially at international level, scoring eight goals to finish as top scorer at the 2017 U17 Euros, as France made it to the quarter-finals.

Gouiri scored in every game he played at the U17 Euros in 2017, bagging braces against Hungary and Scotland, a hat-trick against Faroe Islands and one in the 3-1 defeat to Spain in the quarter-finals. In fact, he scored eight of France’s 12 goals at the tournament — nine of 13 if you include the play-off, which FIFA don’t officially add to the tally. He was also named in the Team of the Tournament alongside the likes of Marc Guehi, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho.

The Lyon product continued to move up the ranks before settling in the U21s aged just 19. Eligible to play until 2023 given the way the U21 tournament rotation and process works, Gouiri played 31 times for France’s U21 side, scoring 12 goals. Overall, only Odsonne Edouard (17) and Moussa Dembele (13) have netted more for France U21s than Gouiri’s 12.

Gouiri’s rise at international level came despite him not getting too much action for Lyon, playing just eight times in Ligue 1 after his debut in November 2017, with injury hitting him for a large period.

He really came to life after moving to Nice in the summer of 2020, playing 89 times for the club across all competitions. In Ligue 1 alone, Gouiri played 75 times for Nice, scoring 22 goals and providing 16 assists. His performances even saw Gouiri linked with a move to Liverpool in January 2022, touted as a potential long-term replacement for Roberto Firmino.

Instead, Gouiri moved to Rennes in the summer of 2022 and continued his good run, scoring 15 times and providing three assists in the league in his debut campaign. Since his Ligue 1 debut on November 19, 2017, as a 17-year-old for Lyon, Gouiri has scored 38 goals in Ligue 1, with only Jonathan David (54) netting more in that period among players aged 23 or under. But Gouiri does lead the way for U23 assists since his debut, providing 19, five more than second-placed Yacine Adli.

All of those goal involvements have come since Gouiri moved to Nice at the start of the 2020/21 season. And in that period, Gouiri has scored more league goals and provided more assists across Europe’s top seven divisions than any French player currently aged 23 or under.

Gouiri was part of the France squad at the 2023 U21 Euros, scoring in the group stage against Switzerland, what would prove to be his final goal for Les Bleus. The 23-year-old has confirmed that he will represent Algeria at senior level, having been linked with a switch earlier this month. At that time, Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi said that Gouiri’s switch was “resolved administratively” only pending an official announcement.

And that announcement has come from Gouiri himself, who revealed in a tweet: “With pride, I announce my decision to join the Algerian team.

“I will defend the Fennecs jersey, body and soul, to carry the colours of our country high and help write the next pages of its rich history.

“My years spent in the French team will remain forever engraved in me. Thank you for everything. The time has come to start a new chapter.”

Gouiri will be eligible for selection for the next two international breaks, which includes World Cup qualifiers, as well as the Africa Cup of Nations at the start of 2024, with Algeria finding out their group and route to the final shortly.