PSV Eindhoven’s Zakaria Bakkali is unquestionably one of the hottest young talents in Dutch football right now and the chase for his signature is really starting to take off.
The youthful winger burst onto the scene at the start of this season with three goals in the August victory over NEC Nijmegen, becoming the youngest player in Eredivisie history to achieve the feat, aged just 17 years and 196 days.
Since then the 18-year-old has gone on to win many fans, including Belgium national team coach Marc Wilmots. Bakkali made his senior debut as a 78th minute substitute in October’s 1-1 draw with Wales, committing his international future to Rode Duivels in the process. Bakkali could yet force his way into Belgium’s World Cup squad, albeit as a reserve. Even if he doesn’t, the future looks bright for the Liege-born winger.
Already, the PSV man has drawn comparisons to compatriot Eden Hazard and the youngster is highly regarded throughout Europe, with some of the continent’s biggest clubs reportedly monitoring the youngster’s progression with plans of a summer bid.
The Gunners are believed to be extremely eager to acquire the services of Bakkali during the next transfer window.
Jamie Sanderson of the Metro claims that a PSV source has said: "Bakkali is a player that Wenger rates highly."
"Arsenal have kept an eye on him and are aware that other teams want him, so could move in the summer to buy him."
No official bids have been made yet and the Belgian’s contract at PSV runs until 2015. Nonetheless, coach Phillip Cocu may already be resigned to losing one of his most promising youngsters.
Since the winter break, Bakkali has made just two cameo appearances. In recent weeks, the 18-year-old hasn’t even been named amongst the substitutes. As his chances of making Belgium’s World Cup squad decrease, he might well start to think that his future lies away from the Philips Stadion.
If he does force a move, he won’t be short of options.