Victor Orta reveals Leeds United have been tracking £40m-rated World Cup star for two years
Ounahi played a central role as his nation became the first African team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup before losing in the last four to beaten finalists France.
Orta has suggested the 22-year-old Angers midfielder may never hit the same heights as he did at the tournament, warning of the other “one-hit wonders” to have played at the World Cup, citing the example of El Hadji Diouf who had a fantastic tournament in Korea/Japan in 2002 which sealed a move to Liverpool.
He scored just three times in his Anfield career, before moving onto the likes of Bolton and Rangers before a spell at Elland Road between 2012 and 2014. A host of Premier League clubs, including Leeds, have been linked with a move for Ounahi who is being tipped for a £40m transfer.
Angers chairman Said Chabane has revealed the club has received “many offers” for Ounahi – including ones from England. Orta says Leeds have been keeping tabs on the player since chairman Andrea Radrizzani became interested in the midfielder.
"Even my president wrote to me,” Orta told Radio Marca. “’Where was he that we didn't see him?' He has been the revelation player. We've known him for two seasons. Regarding his season at Angers, I was surprised by just one thing: the physical level. He used to be more of a trotón [Spanish word used to describe a more languid, less dynamic player].
“But the emotion [of a World Cup]: does he feel the same when he puts on the Angers shirt as when he knows that his whole country is behind him? All that makes us contextualise performances.
"I don't want to talk about Totò Schillaci [1990 World Cup top scorer], [El-Hadji] Diouf and all those one-hit-wonder players who excelled at a World Cup or European Championship but then their careers weren't the same.
“Ounahi has played unbelievable, he has played in an unbelievable context. Now you have to look at bringing him out of that context. He's had a great performance, but to sign a player [after watching him for] five games - and hopefully he has a wonderful career going forward because he's got conditions.
“I invite everyone to watch 20 Angers games. Maybe they will tell me that he is a slightly different player. But maybe this will help him to put himself on the other step and make a different trajectory because it generates that confidence to show himself in the first showcase of the World Cup. But if a sporting director says he thought Ounahi was going to perform like this, he's lying.”
Ounahi joined Angers in 2021 and has gone on to make 47 appearances for the Ligue 1 club. Chabane is hopeful of agreeing a deal for the player in January but has admitted is likely to leave the club at some point in 2023. Speaking to RTL Sport, Chabane said: “We have had many offers for him, from big and medium-sized clubs.
“They have come from all over, from Italy, Spain, England, and France. Our wish is to find an agreement in January, but also that he can remain until the end of the season.”