100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40
Mehdi Benatia

Mehdi Benatia

Industry: Sport

Designation: Footballer

Country: France (Morocco)

Country of origin: @Mehdi_Benatia

Age: 27

How many footballers can you name who have turned down offers from Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea? There’s just the one — Mehdi Benatia.

Born in Courcouronnes, France, to a Moroccan father and an Algerian mother, Benatia started his career at Marseille in 2003 and signed his first professional contract with the French club in 2005. Following spells at Tours, Lorient and Udinese, he signed Roma on a five-year contract in 2013, for a deal worth close to $15m.

He made his name with goals against Sampdoria, Bologna, Catania and Chievo Verona, ending the 2013 season with a respectable five goals in 33 games.

Late last year, he made global headlines when it was revealed Roma needed cash and had signed a $30m deal to sell him to German side Bayern Munich.

“I discussed my future with Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini. He told me that the club wanted to hold on to me, but that they needed the money from a sale. That annoyed me, because I initially wanted to stay put. But let it be clear, I was happy to join Bayern Munich. I like Munich – even if it’s a bit cold here,” he told the Daily Mail. He also plays for the Moroccan national team.