The Premier League’s big four clubs are said to be hovering around PSV Eindhoven, as the race for their Belgian wonderkid – yes, another one – Zakaria Bakkali hots up. Both Manchester sides, as well as Chelsea and Arsenal, have been linked with the winger, who announced his arrival in the PSV side with a bang. Netting a hat trick on only his second start for the club, he became the youngest player ever to do so, aged just 17 and 196 days. With Bakkali impressing many, should Spurs consider signing the man dubbed “the next Eden Hazard”?
Bakkali’s hat-trick against NEC Nijmegen broke Arjen Robben’s record of being the youngest player to score three goals in the Eredivisie. Producing what pretty much amounted to the perfect game, the youngster completed 91% of his passes and completed 89% of his take-ons, in addition to his hat-trick from the right-wing.
A direct winger who enjoys running at his opponent, he made eight successful take-ons – double the amount of the entire NEC team. As the map above shows, most of these took place in key areas around the opponent’s penalty area.
Having produced such an explosive start to his PSV career, the youngster’s next task will be to show that it was no flash in the pan. Bakkali seems to possess the attributes to prevent this from happening. As his first goal against Nijmegen, was with his supposedly weak left-foot. Furthermore, Bakkali is comfortable in possession with both feet, and from either the left or right hand side of the pitch.
His eye for goal is also impressive. The three spectacular finishes for his hat-trick were no fluke. Bakkali has also already scored in Europe – in a Champions League qualifier. He also has an impressive shot accuracy. Of the eight shots he has taken in the league this season only one attempt has missed the target, whilst he also has the ability to shoot with either foot. Not bad for a 17-year-old.
Unusually for a player who can play either side, he provides genuine width to the team. Over the season so far, he has created eight chances. The map above shows the location of these chances, with most of them coming from wide areas
If there is a kink in the young man’s game it is his currently his ability to attack when he isn’t running at pace. Whilst he has completed 86% of his passes, 74.6% of these have been backwards, hinting at a lack of a plan B if a defender stands him up and doesn’t let him past.
Clearly, such criticism of a 17-year-old is nit-picking, but he is likely to benefit more from first team-football in Eindhoven than he is from cameos at a club like Spurs. Lacking the extra dimension for a top side’s first team, he would also find himself under more pressure if he were to move. It could be telling that he hasn’t scored since his explosive breakthrough game. He has the raw potential to live up to his billing as the next Hazard, but may benefit from a season of stability before the inevitable big move.