PSV manager Phillip Cocu could have selected Jorrit Hendrix or Zanka to partner Jeffrey Bruma; instead Rekik—a temporary option at the club—is the preferred starting centre-back.
For Cocu to start a player whose rights are not owned by PSV shows you how impressive Rekik has been in training.
Rekik's season was interrupted by an ankle injury which forced him to miss seven Eredivisie games, but he was immediately reinstated into the starting XI once he was fully-fit—another indicator of how much trust Cocu has in the teenager.
What stands out about Rekik is how assured he is with the ball at his feet, evident in the 5-0 win over NEC Nijmegen when 97 percent of his passes were accurate.
This season, he averages 61.5 passes per league game and completes 86.8 percent of his passes.
You'll often see him saunter into open space and make a cross-field pass.
While he is refined in possession, his defending is inconsistent.
Rekik's Shoddy Defending
He has committed more fouls (26) than completed tackles (14) in combined Eredivisie and UEFA Europa League play.
Rekik is not a proactive defender who can consistently win back the ball, which is why he averages 1.1 tackles per league game.
He prefers to jockey and he aims to be in such a great position that he does not need to make a tackle.
But his positioning has been below-par, hence why he has a tackle success percentage of 58 in the Eredivisie and 25 in the Europa League.
Here are several examples highlighting Rekik's defensive deficiencies this season.
Bruma whiffs on his clearance to allow ADO Den Haag's Mike van Duinen to run on to the ball and he outpaces Rekik to score.
Scouting Rekik: No recovery speed and does not even contest Van Duinen's shot.
Memphis Depay turns over possession after a full-blooded challenge from Heracles Almelo centre midfielder Kwame Quansah.
The ball rolls to Heracles' No. 8 Lerin Duarte and Rekik tries to block the shot to no avail. The shot deflects off Bruma and past PSV keeper Jeroen Zoet.
Scouting Rekik: Split second of indecision is the reason why he did not block Duarte's shot, who later joined Ajax on transfer deadline day.
AC Milan right forward Kevin-Prince Boateng (now at Schalke) takes a massive wind-up, but Rekik again cannot block the shot, which goes past keeper Zoet.
Scouting Rekik: Should have rushed forward and put his body on the line. Instead, he oddly moves away from goal, giving Boateng the gap to score.
The ball goes towards Vitesse's Davy Propper and he completely flummoxes Rekik, who leaves the defence unguarded.
This allows Lucas Piazon to get through on goal and he scores the first of Vitesse's six goals.
Scouting Rekik: Propper had his back to goal so if Rekik does not go charging out, Propper would most likely have trapped the ball, giving Zanka the time to provide help.
Don't be too disheartened by Rekik's struggles because you have to factor in the tiring task of covering for Bruma.
Do they connect? They're close off the field, via Bleed Orange Jan's Dutch Soccer Site:
Rekik: "I played for years with Kyle Ebicilio, who is now at FC Twente. He is a very good mate. And he is Jeffrey’s cousin. Our families know each other really well and we even went on holidays together. I remember you left for Chelsea that particular summer."
Bruma: "It's quite special to be playing with Karim now, thinking about that particular summer. We couldn't have made that up back then."
Rekik: "We do share the same management [Rodger Linse] and through them I heard pretty early on that PSV wanted us both."
Yet on the field, Rekik and Bruma are all over the place in terms of defensive positioning.
How can Bruma be a leader when he is the worst defender on the team?
He has committed a plethora of mistakes, received two red cards in his last three games and leads PSV in free-kicks conceded per league game (2.1).
Rekik is being thrown into the deep end by Cocu, who inadvertently has made the 19-year-old the leader at the back instead of Bruma, the Dutch Titus Bramble.
Bruma, once seen as the successor to John Terry at Chelsea, has been bailed out ad nauseum by Rekik.
Rekik is a world-class prospect, but he is not superman.
He will perform substantially better if he plays alongside an elite centre-back.
It is a learning curve for Rekik which will stand him in good stead for the future.