Liverpool Transfer News: Zakaria Bakkali a Brilliant Target for Reds

Dominic RaynorCorrespondent IIJuly 18, 2014

Netherlands' club PSV Eindhoven Zakaria Bakkali, right, fights for the ball with South Korea's club Samsung Bluewings Kim Do-heon during their friendly soccer match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

With Liverpool still searching for their fourth signing of the summer, manager Brendan Rodgers is closing in on a deal to sign PSV Eindhoven's promising youngster Zakaria Bakkali, according to Jamie Anderson of the Daily Express.

The Reds have reportedly enquired about the availability of the 18-year-old winger and are likely to lodge an £8 million bid in the coming days, with talks well advanced.

Compared to the signing of young talents such as Emre Can and Lazar Markovic, Bakkali is hardly the marquee name Liverpool fans desire to help to fill chasm left by Luis Suarez, but he is talented player.

So who is Zakaria Bakkali?

The Daily Express claim the winger has been "dubbed the next Eden Hazard," but at 23, Hazard is yet to establish himself, let alone make waves enough for the "next" one.

However, the comparison does highlight some similarities: they are both Belgian internationals, pacey and like run with the ball at their feet.

Bakkali joined PSV's academy at the age of 12 and rose through the ranks to feature for Jong PSV in the during the 2012–13 season.

He was promoted to the PSV first team for the 2013–14 season, and after making his Eredivisie debut in the first game of the season against Den Haag, he went on to play 20 games in the Dutch league and Europe League combined, per Soccerbase.

He scored a hat-trick in his second game for PSV, against NEC Nijmegen, but that was it, in terms of goals, for the season. Although he did create 13 chances for his teammates, per Squawka.

The pick of his statistics is his passing accuracy, which averages out at 90 percent. That attribute fits in well with Rodgers philosophy and style at Liverpool; so the deal begins to make real sense.

His other attributes also fit with the Rodgers style, as Sam Parker of Squawka, explains: 

Bakkali's main strength is his pace and direct style of play, with his ability to take on his man key to his effectiveness on the flanks.

Despite being reduced to a mainly substitute role, Bakkali managed to complete 24 take-ons in 16 [Eredivise] appearances, with 65% of his attempts to beat his man coming off successfully.

In Raheem Sterling, Rodgers has proven he can bring the best out talented young players. The 19-year-old began life at Anfield as a troublesome teen, but under the guidance of Rodgers, he ended last season as one of Liverpool's star performers and with a staring place in England's World Cup team.

Rodgers may see similar potential in Bakkali. If that is the case, then the Belgian may not just be a player to get excited about for the future, but one that can deliver as soon as next season.

Bakkali has the ability to be a fine player, and Rodgers would appear to be the right man to help him fulfil that potential.