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Regardless of what happens on Wednesday when Morocco face France in the semifinal of the 2022 World Cup, the African team have been one of the most incredible and unexpected sides of the tournament. Morocco are the first African team to ever reach the semifinals of the most important soccer competition, having already made history, but there are a lot of stories within their story as to how it all unfolded. One of those is that of Sofyan Amrabat, the Moroccan midfielder who has been one of the best players of the tournament, and whose stock is skyrocketing with his performances. 

The Fiorentina midfielder had some ups and downs in the past seasons but now it looks like he's at the best of his form and can just improve. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the kind of person who always says what he thinks, told Sky Italy that he was impressed by two players this season so far.

"Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Sofyan Amrabat for sure were the most notable players I've watched this season in Italy," he said.

Despite the endorsement of Ibrahimovic, very few predicted how well Morocco would do at the World Cup and how Amrabat's role had an impact on the performance of the team before the competition started last November. 

The story of Amrabat started in the Netherlands, when he was born in 1996 to a Moroccan family. He's the little brother of Nordin Amrabat, who is also a soccer player and currently plays for AEK Athens. He always was his number one supporter, as he admitted right after the quarter-final that Morocco won against Portugal when the two brothers met after the game. He made his official debut with Utrecht FC where he was coached by the current Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag, then he moved to Feyenoord before moving again to Belgium where he played one season (2018-2019) for Club Brugge, the perfect place to improve his technical qualities and when he also started to be called regularly by the national team. Brugge is a crucial place for European soccer, where many talents grew and showed their skills in the last decade. Amrabat is one of them. 

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Italian side Hellas Verona noticed him and signed him for around €3.5 million and immediately became a starter. Coach Ivan Juric considered him a key player for his team that surprised a lot of people that season with a three-line defense and a midfield that relied on Amrabat more than anyone else. Verona ended up ninth that year, and already in January many clubs started to work to sign Amrabat. 

Starting with Napoli, which already signed Amir Rrahmani from Hellas Verona a few days before the end of the window and left the player at Verona on loan until the end of the season. Napoli's sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli wanted to replicate the same deal with Sofyan Amrabat and actually found an agreement with Hellas Verona, but they didn't consider that Fiorentina were working to sign him as well behind the scenes. American owner Rocco Commisso wanted Amrabat as a priority for the 2020 January transfer window and convinced the player to join the Viola. The two clubs agreed for a €20 million fee but also in this case the Moroccan midfielder was loaned to Hellas Verona to conclude the season.  

His career at Fiorentina started off quite well and he played regularly, but things became more difficult because of the many issues that team had during the 2020-21 season. It was a very disappointing campaign overall for the club as it changed manager twice during the season. Beppe Iachini was sacked and Cesare Prandelli was called back at the club ten years after his first spell, but things didn't go as expected and Iachini was called back for the remaining ten matches of the season. The Viola ended up 13th in the league but despite a disappointing season, Amrabat played regularly with both Iachini and Prandelli as a playmaker and also as a defensive midfielder. The 2021-22 season saw the arrival of Vincenzo Italiano as a new coach, and things changed drastically for Amrabat. The Moroccan midfielder barely played in the first part of the season and only had one start until he went to play the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and missed four Serie A matches. At the same time, his agent tried to find a new club and Antonio Conte's Tottenham were really close to signing him in January of this year. However, timing is key in the world of transfers and Tottenham needed to sell one midfielder before and couldn't do it until the very end of the window, and that is when Fiorentina decided to keep the player. 

As things move very quickly in the world of transfers, things may also change in the world of soccer. In this case, there is day that changed the story between Fiorentina and Amrabat, who until then seemed to be a player set to leave in the summer of 2022. On Feb. 14, a few days after the end of the window, coach Italiano decided to start Amrabat for the second time since he arrived at the club, but this time things went in a totally different way and the midfielder scored the winning 2-1 goal (his only one with Fiorentina so far) in the last minute of the match. A moment that completely changed the perspective of Amrabat with his club and also with his coach, who started to play him regularly from that moment on and continued to do so also in the current 2022-23 season, where he's the crucial pivot of the Fiorentina's midfield. 

This season Sofyan Amrabat already played 20 games with Fiorentina and is a regular starter, but it's fair to say that his impact at the World Cup has been a surprise also for those who watch him playing in Italy every weekend. The way he played against Spain and Portugal in particular showed that he's a midfielder that can bring quality to many European clubs that are looking for a central midfielder of this kind. Fiorentina's American owner Rocco Commisso, on the other hand, won't be an easy person to deal with to buy the player in 2023. He wanted him more than anyone else back in January 2020 and now he knows that the evaluation of Amrabat is only growing with each minute in Qatar.