Man City and Chelsea join Arsenal in the race for PSV Eindhoven’s Zakaria Bakkali
Manchester City and Chelsea are the latest Premier League clubs to be linked with a move for PSV Eindhoven wonderkid Zakaria Bakkali.
Arsenal had previously been reported to be interested in a double swoop for the 17-year-old and his PSV team-mate Georginio Wijnaldum and were the frontrunners to complete his signing.
Last weekend, Bakkali grabbed the headlines when he became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in Eredivisie history by bagging three goals against NEC Nijmegen. That ensured that any scouts who had managed to miss him up to that point suddenly sat up and took notice.
City were already well aware of the youngster though. The Belgium under-21 international, who is of Moroccan descent, was first a target for the Premier League runners-up as far back as 2011. The then 15-year-old Bakkali was already in PSV’s youth ranks at that stage – having previously played for Standard Liege – but opted to turn down a move to England in favour of continuing his development in Holland.
Arsenal scout Peter Clarke has reportedly watched both Bakkali and Wijnaldum in recent weeks. Clarke’s seniority within the Gunners’ scouting setup suggested that a move was imminent, but no bid has been made yet by Arsene Wenger’s side. That has given both City and Chelsea the opportunity to battle for Bakkali’s signature.
His recent exploits for PSV’s first-team are likely to push his price-tag up.
At just 5ft 5in, he is not likely to impose himself physically on the Premier League. But he is a pacy right winger who has already demonstrated that he has an eye for goal at every level he has played.
He was named in Belgium’s senior squad for their international friendly against Belgium last week. An injury sustained in training on the day of the game forced him to pull out, but there is no doubt he is in coach Marc Wilmots’ thoughts.
If you’d like to bet on Bakkali’s next exploits, PSV are round about 1/2 favourites to give minnows Heracles a bit of a kicking this weekend. There is every chance that their young starlet could be among the goals once again on Saturday (assuming none of the Premier League big boys have snapped him up by that stage).