Ali Benarbia helped Bordeaux win the Championship in 1999, but the following week he moved to Paris St. Germain. The deal was made one month before but was kept quiet until the end of the season. The French player of the season in 1999 cost Bordeaux £1,5M when he arrived from Monaco in 1998, and one year later PSG had to put £2M on the table for the Algerian playmaker.
In fact Benarbia could have played for France, but after being overlooked for many years he decided to put on the Algerian jersey towards the end of his career.
At the age of 33, Benarbia made the switch to English 1st division football, and joined Manchester City on a free transfer in September 2001. Kevin Keegan was delighted to get Benarbia to Maine Road, and the Algerian impressed right from the start, scoring 3 goals in his first three games. Ali was the nucleus in the City midfield that bursted its way back into the Premiership. He recieved the City Player of the Year award an one year extension to his contract to end a perfect first season for the slick ball magician.
The introduction to Premiership football did not go as easy as life in Nationwide 1st. Ali had trouble adjusting to the high pace, and shows lack of fitness throughout the games. The playmaker role was given to Eyal Berkovic as the Manager opted for more defensive power. Ali had to fight his way back into the team and with a number of wonderful performances as a sub. he managed to claw his way into the team towards the end of the season.
In July 2003 Ali Benarbia announced his decision to quit football. Ali found his options at the club limited and decided to call it a day despite having one year left of his contract. Kevin Keegan confirmed the news as the squad prepared to leave Manchester for their pre-season tour of Denmark. The player had his contract paid up and left the club the same day. Ali will lead the blues for one final game - the friendly against Barcelona in August.
27/7 2003: Ali Benarbia has signed for Qatar side Al-Rayyan despite retiring from football five days ago. The Algerian midfielder left Manchester City and, for a brief period, football last week after claiming that he could no longer cope with the rigours of the Premiership. But on hanging up his boots, he was instantly linked with the cash-rich playing fields of the Middle East, and he has now confirmed that he has signed a two-year-deal with Al-Rayyan. I am fully aware of the challenges lying ahead with a big club like Al-Rayyan, he told the Al-Watan newspaper. Benarbia is the latest in a growing line of veteran stars to be tempted by playing in the Middle East. Al-Rayyan have already signed former German international Mario Basler, while Gabriel Batistuta, Frank Leboeuf and Steffen Effenberg are all also employed in the Qatar league.