Noussair Mazraoui has been a revelation since breaking into Ajax’s line-up last season and is set to play a major role in Erik ten Hag’s side this season

  • By Michael Bell
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Born in Leiderdorp but with Moroccan roots, Mazraoui joined the Ajax academy in 2006 and ten years later he made his professional debut for Jong Ajax against FC Volendam.

It appeared that the midfielder was heading out of the club when he was playing at Jong Ajax without a contract, but his form exploded in the Eerste Divisie and he was retained. Last season he was excellent for Jong Ajax and Erik ten Hag handed the youngster his Eredivisie debut as a late substitute against NAC. He made another four sub appearances before starting the final three games of the season as his versatility made him undroppable for Ten Hag.

His form was also noticed by the Moroccan national coach Herve Renard, who included Mazraoui in his standby list for their World Cup squad. He is yet to make his official debut in the Moroccan national team but is set to choose the African nation over the Netherlands.

Mazraoui has remained a part of the first team squad this summer and heads into the season as first choice right-back having excelled in the Champions League qualifiers against Sturm Graz.

Style of Play

Mazraoui came through the academy as a midfielder and that is his preferred position, but Ten Hag has utilized the youngster as a right-back with great effect.

During the ties with Sturm Graz, Mazraoui formed an excellent partnership with Hakim Ziyech going forward. He has plenty of pace, excellent dribbling ability and the vision to pick out a pass. His athleticism and stamina make it no problem for him to race up and down the wing all game, while his strength on the ball makes it tough for opposing attackers to get by him.

Mazraoui offers Ten Hag a lot more going forward than either Rasmus Kristensen or a fit-again Joel Veltman and can make the right-back position his own for the whole season. His development is very similar to what Feyenoord did with Rick Karsdorp.

What to expect from Mazraoui this season

The full-back’s development over the last two years has been rapid and Mazraoui will be aiming to impress in his first full season as a member of Ajax’s first team.

He has openly stated that he wants to return to the midfield, but with too much competition, he is set to remain as a right-back for the foreseeable future, which isn’t a bad thing for the club and player.

The 20-year-old has exceeded expectations already and should be a key player for Ajax as they challenge on three fronts this season. Netherlands should make a late move to encourage him to switch his national team allegiances, but he is set to be another young star who chooses Morocco over the Oranje and he should make his debut ahead of the African Cup of Nations next year.

Michael Bell (59 Posts)