An extensive look at Manchester City, and Netherlands defender Karim Rekik, who is currently on loan at PSV Eindhoven.

  • By Sid Chaurasiya
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rekik bKarim Rekik has been in the news in recent times for his performances at PSV Eindhoven, earning plaudits from one and all Eredivisie enthusiasts. Such has been his impact at the PSV that he was selected in the Dutch squad for the World Cup qualifiers only to withdraw latter due to an injury.

Background:

Karim Rekik,18, is Dutch of Tunisian descent. Rekik spent 9 years at the Feyenoord academy before moving to Manchester at a very young age. He made his City debut at the age of 16, when he came on from the bench as a substitute for Wayne Bridge against Birmingham City in a League Cup tie. He was later loaned to Portsmouth, where he was a regular player on the team list having started 8 matches, usually occupying the left back position for the Pompeys. The next loan spell to Blackburn was a frustrating spell as he started in only 4 matches and being unused on the bench in 8 matches. He made his Premier League debut in December when he started against Reading in a 1-0 victory,again occupying the Left back spot. Currently, at PSV Eindhoven where has been receiving raving reviews for his matured performances.  Karim captains the U19 but his recent meteoric rise has helped him to be considered for the National Team by manager, Louis Van Gaal.

Scout Report:

Karim Rekik can be described as a proper modern ball playing centre back. In his own words, Rekik’s natural position is centre back but he can cover up the left back spot whenever needed. Rekik has been/is the Captain of Feyenoord Youth, City reserves and the Netherlands Youth national team. Despite his young age, he has already acquired some handy experience.

Karim Rekik comes as across as a very dedicated and passionate footballer. When he first joined, Manchester City, he was prone to mistakes when playing for the reserves, losing every challenge on the field and getting dispossessed easily which greatly affected his confidence. He has worked real hard since those early days for which Manchester City should be equally given credit for since they formed a personal program for him to recover the morale and gain strength. His hard work has paid off and is now seen as one of the best defenders in Eredivisie in his debut season itself.

Standing 6 ft 1 in tall, Rekik uses his height to good use for aerial duels and headed clearances. He is very strong in the air, with winning 73.67% of his aerial duels in Eredivisie is testament for it. Karim is capable of playing from the back, an attribute which is gradually gaining real importance. He averages 9.75 long balls attempted per game this season, most of which have been decisive in starting a move and few of those eventually resulted into a goal like Wijnaldum’s strike against Ado Den Haag. His enthusiasm to help the team is visible by his tactical awareness.

Rekik’s physique and tremendous strength makes it very difficult to him push off the ball. He is extremely comfortable in possession and is an accomplished passer of the ball with possessing a rich variety of passes averaging 70.8 passes per game and completing 89.4% of them this season. His reading and understanding of the game is already top class and was visible from his performance against Fenerbahce in a pre season friendly. The following image sheds more light on his immense reading and positioning sense.

 

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The image shows how Rekik (marked) reads Fenerbahce’s next move and swiftly positions himself ahead of Raul Meireles to nullify the attack.

To add to it, his brilliant anticipation and intercepting skills makes him capable of handling any Strikers. Rekik is well composed in any situations but at the same time does not shies away from sliding in a tackle. His tackling technique is clean and is rarely seen in clumsy positions. It is seen, many defenders commit panicking or headless clearance which ultimately leads to a goal. Rekik’s presence of mind makes him very solid in clearing the ball. He alone made 11 clearance in his debut Eredivisie match and all of them were effective ones. One would expect a defender with physique like Karim to be on the slower side in terms of his pace. But thanks to his gifted body balance and structure, he has good pace to cover the ground throughout.

Rekik is a real commanding leader at the back, a trait which he shares with his City teammate and captain, Vincent Kompany. He is as calm and composed as one could get and is rarely seen caught in possession or divulging in reckless plays. He is always up to challenge for ground or Aerial 50/50 and his leadership qualities can be seen in the way he conducts himself on the pitch. Being robust and backed up with his awareness, he can be very effective for countering any Target Men. Rekik classifies as one of those defenders which every team requires in set piece situations for their physical presence.

One common drawback that is seen in most of the young players is Concentration. This City defender isn’t much different. Another drawback of his game is his tendency to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper often, given the relentless pace at which football is played in Premier League, teams can ruthlessly expose this drawback. At times Karim tends to commit early which gives the opposition player an extra split second to make a decision. His decision making can be susceptible at times like shown by the following image.

Following image is from the Champions League qualifier between Milan-PSV at the San Siro.

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Here, instead of closing Boateng down, Rekik tried to back off and block the shot which turned out to be a poor decision as Boateng scored from 20 yards out.

Since joining PSV on loan, his consistency and understanding with Bruma has been remarkable. The best thing about Rekik is he hasn’t allowed his recent success to get into his head, a factor which has led to faltering of many promising young players in the past.

With Ajax losing key players like Christian Eriksen and Alderweireld in this window, PSV Eindhoven have a great chance to win the title this season and Karim Rekik can surely play a pivotal part in achieving it. Manchester City have a real gem in this 18 year old defender and the prospect of Rekik teaming up with Kompany will be one to watch out for next season when he returns to Manchester. Karim recently stated his desire to represent Netherlands in next year’s World Cup. Safe to say, he is on the right ┬ápath to achieve this dream.




Sid Chaurasiya (4 Posts)