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80% Shot Accuracy & 90% Passing Rate: Scouting Arsenal & Liverpool’s 18 Year Old Attacking Target

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According to major British tabloids, Liverpool and Arsenal are keen to snap up PSV Eindhoven’s 18 year old youngster Zakaria Bakkali. The Belgian teenager is believed to be the hottest property in European club football and his recent all time low relationship with the club would give a significant boost to the Reds and the Gunners in their pursuit for the Eindhoven winger. PSV’s technical director had set a deadline to the player to sign a contract extension but the player’s incessant antics both on and off the field has strained the relationship with the player.

Bakkali’s aunt and uncle who are also his agents have stalled talks and the player’s relationship with the club came to an all time low according to national Daily Express when he was substituted 16 minutes into a friendly with South Korean side Gyeongnam FC. Interim PSV boss Ernest Faber reportedly had enough after watching Bakkali let his defensive assignment go past him three times in the opening stages of the game.

This gives a clear indication that the player has set his heart out for a move to greener pastures in the summer. Bakkali’s current deal expires at the end OF 2015 which means PSV accept they must sell this summer if he won’t agree terms or would be resigned to let him on a free transfer at the end of next campaign.

So here Bakkali’s scout report:

Bakkali is of Moroccan descent and primarily a winger who can also play as a second striker up front. Although he is aright footed player, deploying him on the left flank allows him to play as an inverted winger against the opposition defender’s weaker foot. He has the eye for a killer ball to the strikers up front and also has a good shooting accuracy which stands at 80% coupled with his passing range which stands at an astounding 90%, something that would impress Arsene Wenger of all the people.

His conversion rate though is below par as the player hits the back of the net only once in 5 chances. A pacy winger of his quality isn’t flummoxed by defenders hot on his trail, Bakkali would constantly free himself up to drift on the flanks, remain as wide as possible and have space to cut inside. His ability to skip past defenders would provide Arsenal and Liverpool both an extra dimension in their attacks up front.

Technical Abilities:

Given that Bakkali is short, he is difficult to tackle and wins almost 60% of his duels. However it is offset in his ability to challenge in the air but the player comes out on top 65% in his individual duels. The winger gets fouled often thanks to his trickery, pace and intelligent moves off the ball. Defensively, his work rate isn’t a major asset but given he is young, a good manager would instill the importance to track back and sort out the team’s defense, being prepared for the counter. Moreover, he outdoes himself quite too often which results in loss o concentration loss and squandering possession when a viable option is open for a pass.


As far as the weaknesses go, it is his inability to track back and help out his defenders that worries most of the managers. Although Bakkali, is a natural talent, his lack of work rate could cost his future if he were to move to the Premier League where the freedom to express his attacking skills solely might not help in the longer run. Bakkali also has traces of Arshavin, Gervinho and Ryan Babel in him as he tries to dribble a touch more than he normally should and ends up losing possession.

Possible Destination

As far as personal opinions go, Bakkali might not help either of Liverpool or Arsenal at the moment, but with the Reds’ entry into the Champions League, their need for squad players has increased. So it might be a win win situation if Liverpool roped in the youngster. who knows, given a couple of years under the stewardship of Brendan Rodgers, Bakkali might turn out to be the next Eden Hazard.

Stats via squawka