Who is Abdelhak Nouri? Sam May takes a look at the latest Dutch teen sensation currently in the Ajax youth set-up.

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nouri ajaDubbed the new ‘Johan Cruyff’, 18 year-old midfielder Abdelhak Nouri of Moroccan descent, has been with the Amsterdam outfit since joining the club aged seven. Nicknamed the ‘Apple’ the wonder-kid models his game on the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, while he was a key member of the Netherlands side that finished runners-up at the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.

Who is this Cruyff resembler? In terms of positioning he is a versatile player and can play either as an attacking midfielder, left-winger or as a lone striker. The starlet has great leadership qualities – he is the modern playmaker. His blistering pace, dribbling, passing, creativity and overall technique has seen him been linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe such as Manchester United, Arsenal, Paris Saint Germain. Tottenham, Southampton and Everton have also been previously linked with the whizz-kid. He is also very confident in tight areas; a good reader of the game and his velvet touch has seen his scoring a number of goals.

Louis Van Gaal has previously praised the youngster and Arsenal have sent chief scout Steve Rowley to keep tabs on him in recent times. Ajax may decide to fast track the youngster into Frank de Boer’s set-up in an attempt to convince Nouri his future remains in the Dutch capital, should clubs come circling in the summer.

His showings against Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain in last season’s UEFA Youth League were especially eye-catching. He made his professional debut at Jong Ajax on 13 March 2015 in a Eerste Divisie 1-0 defeat against VVV Venlo.

Frank De Boer himself has heavily hinted that Nouri is likely to be drafted into the senior squad before the season is out. Combine the odd appearance with the first team with regular youth football and he could be ready to be a key player next term. He has made 22 appearances in all competitions to date, scoring seven goals and making six assists. The youngster likes to hold the ball up, come deep and dictate tempo, play through balls, has very good in combination play and has good precision when passing and shooting. He is best suited in a 4-3-3 formation.

Nouri has previously been quoted saying: “Players like Cruyff, Messi and Iniesta are my examples. They also eye space, but they play very smart and know how to use their body to get the opponent off balance. The ball is my greatest friend. Football means everything to me.”

Dutch journalist and presenter Henk Spaan has previously heaped praise on the youngster: “I have known him from the age of ten – I immediately thought about a new Cruyff as the talent just oozed out of him. He is so good in small spaces, has such great technique and touch. He is also a true leader.”

“He is getting closer to the first team all the time. It’s good that he’s playing in the Eerste Divisie [Dutch Second Division with Jong Ajax] because he has to learn to deal with that. He has a long way to go but he has incredible talent.” Ajax coach Frank de Boer was quoted saying.

Former head of Ajax youth department, Wim Jonk has previously said: “These are the guys you go to the stadium to watch.”

He is under contract with Ajax until June 30 2020.

Teams he would be suited to: Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal, Paris Saint Germain

Sam May (6 Posts)