After losing ten regular first-team players over the summer, including Dries Mertens, Jeremain Lens, and Kevin Strootman, new PSV Eindhoven boss Phillip Cocu began a rebuilding process centering around youth. He recruited seven new players, five of which were under the age of 23, and he promoted a couple others from the reserve team. The fact that they are tied in first place in the Eredivisie is an indication that the project is on the right track. But Cocu is in danger of losing one of his brightest talents, with the Daily Mirror reporting that Manchester United and Manchester City are set to go head-to-head over a deal for 17-year-old Zakaria Bakkali.
Earlier this season, he became the youngest in Eredivisie history to net a hat-trick. However, the Manchester giants are said to be confident about tying up a deal for Bakkali. But what does Bakkali have to offer these clubs?
After just seven league appearances, the young Belgian has drawn comparisons to Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. However, he isn’t exactly a playmaker like his elder compatriot. A short (he stands at just 1.64 metres), quick player, he is used primarily as a right-winger, but can also play on the left-flank as well as up front as a striker.
He is quite the trickster, using his small stature and pace to get the better of his opponents, attempting an average of three take-on’s so far this season, completing a very impressive 76% of them. But Bakkali is keen to deliver crosses into the box too, attempting just over one per game so far, finding the target with a quarter of them. Overall, he has created an average of just over one chance per game so far, with 75% of these coming from the wide areas.
Averaging just over one shot per game so far, he isn’t obsessed with trying to score goals, but as his hat-trick proves, he is capable finding the net. The youngster has a shot accuracy of 88% so far this season. Unfortunately, he isn’t obsessed with defensive duties either, averaging zero defensive actions so far. This is definitely an area worth looking at, given wide players are often called upon to track their opposing full-back’s.
City will no doubt see the youngster as backup for the likes of Jesus Navas, David Silva, Samir Nasri, and James Milner, who currently play on the flanks. First-team opportunities would quite likely be few and far in-between, given the quality and experience of those players. He may fare better at United, on the other hand, given their current wide options are woefully inconsistent.
The likes of Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have failed to impress, not just this season, but over the course of last. The same can be said of Nani, although since signing his new long-term deal, his performances have improved. He was particularly outstanding at home against West Bromwich Albion. Wilfried Zaha, meanwhile, is yet to even make an appearance since signing for £15 million and may even head out on loan in January.
Only Adnan Januzaj, just one year older than Bakkali, has looked consistently threatening when called upon. His impressive brace that won the game away to Sunderland at the weekend is proof of that. That said, it’s understandable why Moyes is reportedly looking at sprucing up his wide options.
Bakkali certainly has the potential to be a fantastic player. But with that in mind, PSV must keep hold of him, given his immense talent and the fact he could bring the club a great deal of success and money, in the future.
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Topics: Zakaria Bakkali