Slimani ready to heap further misery on Porto

Algerian Islam Slimani, the Foxes' new arrival from Sporting Lisbon, training on the eve of their first-ever home Champions League tie.
Algerian Islam Slimani, the Foxes' new arrival from Sporting Lisbon, training on the eve of their first-ever home Champions League tie.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Leicester City may be unfamiliar Champions League opponents for Porto, who visit the King Power Stadium today, but Islam Slimani is a player they know all too well.

During his three seasons with Sporting Lisbon, the Algeria striker scored six goals against Porto in six appearances, earning him the nickname "The Dragon Slayer" from the Lisbon club's fans.

Now paired up front with Jamie Vardy for Leicester, he will hope to resume his torment of the Portuguese giants as the English champions play the first home Champions League game in their 132-year history.

Leicester, the Group G leaders, broke their transfer record to sign Slimani, 28, from Sporting on transfer deadline day, paying a fee of about £28 million (S$49.2 million).

But he is every bit as rough-cut as Vardy, who joined Leicester from non-league Fleetwood Town in 2012, or his Algeria team-mate Riyad Mahrez, who was signed from French second-tier side Le Havre.

Slimani was playing in the Algerian fourth division at the age of 21 and did not make the move to Europe until he was 25, joining Sporting from Algiers outfit CR Belouizdad.

A raw, rangy and technically unrefined target man, he moved to Sporting as back-up for Colombian striker Fredy Montero and was initially used as an impact substitute.

Gradually, however, he became an integral cog in the Sporting machine and by the time he left the club, he had scored 48 goals in 82 Portuguese league appearances.

Slimani's reputation as a bruiser is another reason why Porto's centre-backs will be apprehensive about crossing swords with him again.

Porto drew their opening Group G match 1-1 with Copenhagen.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline 'Slimani ready to heap further misery on Porto'. Print Edition | Subscribe