The jury is still out on whether Brentford are a stronger team on the back of the 2019 summer transfer window.
The West London side made a number of exciting signings, including most notably Pontus Jansson and Bryan Mbeumbo, but also saw multiple key players depart.
Neal Maupay and Ezri Konza both drew sizeable transfer fees from Premier League sides, while Romaine Sawyers made the switch to Championship rivals West Bromwich Albion for a reported £2.9 million.
One player that looked destined to leave but has remained a Bees player is Said Benrahma.
The 24-year-old winger was the subject of summer-long interest from Aston Villa and, while it was reported he wanted to join the Premier League new boys, a deal was never agreed–despite them spending nearly £150 million in the window.
He now returns to Griffin Park on the back of a sensational debut season, which saw him add 11 goals and 17 assists, and there will be pressure on him to prove he is more than just a one-season wonder.
The Algerian seems to have his sights set on Premier League football and he cannot rely on an impressive 2018/19 campaign if he wants to achieve that goal–he needs to kick on and prove that he can be a consistent attacking threat at his level.
There will be added pressure on the 24-year-old as he is no longer a breakthrough player. There is now an expectation that he will be a main attacking threat for Brentford and teams will likely be better prepared to deal with him.
The summer departures will be both a blessing and a curse for Benrahma. In Sawyers and Maupay, Brentford have lost two of their key attacking players, which means more focus will now be on the Algerian.
The loss of Sawyers, who was a creative influence from central midfielder for Brentford last season and provided seven assists, will undoubtedly be a blow, but Maupay’s exit could allow Benrahma an opportunity to take centre stage.
The winger’s exploits last season were certainly aided by having Maupay in the starting line-up but the striker’s 28 goals and nine assists took a lot of the limelight.
Benrahma’s reported interest in the summer more to Villa indicate he is keen to make the step up to the Premier League but with the transfer window now closed and at least half a season of Championship football ahead of him, he must forget about a potential move and concentrate on proving that last season was not a one-off.
If he can repeat the attacking production he showed last season after the exits of Sawyers and Maupay, there will surely be more clubs than just Villa queuing up to make him a top-flight player.