Five potential destinations for Belgian starlet Zakaria Bakkali
It seems that the Premier League is a hotbed for Belgian talent, with 11 of their World Cup players plying their trade in England last season.
Another top Belgian talent could be on his way to the greatest league in the world, after Zakaria Bakkali, 18, apparently refused to sign an extension to his contract at Dutch giants PSV Eindoven, which ends next summer.
As a result, the attacker’s manager Phillip Cocu has demoted him to the Under-21s. Bakkali played 16 Eredivisie games for PSV’s senior side last season, though, scoring three goals, and his stand-out performances earned him a maiden Belgium cap by national boss Marc Wilmots.
With the youngster set to move on, Coral writers provide five possible Premier League destinations for him.
Manchester United – 4/1 to win a major trophy this season
The Red Devils are currently going through a transition period, with the methods of new boss Louis van Gaal still yet to settle in place. Dutchman Van Gaal is renowned for blooding youth into his first teams, and would be an ideal mentor for young forward Bakkali.
With the likes of attackers Nani, Ashley Young and Wilfried Zaha all seemingly unfavoured at Old Trafford, the Belgian would be a fantastic replacement, and could join compatriots Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj.
Tottenham – 6/1 top four finish
Spurs are another Premier League side who have a Belgium contingent, with internationals Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli and Jan Vertonghen all on their books. The north Londoners have struggled this term in attack, getting just 11 goals in nine top-flight games, and Bakkali could be the answer.
Southampton – 9/2 top four finish
The Saints, on the other hand, have had a fantastic start to the season, as they find themselves up in second, scoring 20 times. Southampton, who are another club that are not afraid to blood youth players, have fewer options on the wings, though, and Bakkali would be a great, cheap option.
Defender Toby Alderweireld, on loan from Atletico Madrid, is the only Belgian in the Saints’ squad currently.
Liverpool – 5/4 top four finish
Brendan Rodgers’ side were always going to struggle after selling Luis Suarez to Barcelona in the summer, but they are really lacking attacking creation, with the likes of Mario Balotelli failing to deliver. Second choice Belgium keeper Simon Mignolet would be the one to potentially show Bakkali the ropes.
Arsenal – 7/2 to win a major trophy
The Gunners have had an inconsistent start to the season, but could really push on with the addition of an up-and-coming talent like Bakkali, especially with the fitness uncertainties of Theo Walcott. Unfortunately, there are no Belgian players for Bakkali to look to here, with Thomas Vermaelen recently moving to Barcelona, but Arsene Wenger has been a good guide for youngsters over the years.