After making his Eredivisie debut last season, talented winger Ilias Alhaft will be looking to establish himself in the Sparta Rotterdam line-up.

  • By Michael Bell
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After three years with amateur side RVVH Ridderkerk, Alhaft was picked up by Sparta Rotterdam in 2008 at the age of 11. After working his way through the various age groups, a 19-year-old Alhaft was handed his first team debut from the bench in the 3-2 defeat to Dordrecht. After the club’s promotion to the Eredivisie that year, Alhaft was named on the bench for several of the club’s opening matches but played most of his games for the U21’s in the newly formed second division. He was a star for Jong Sparta, netting ten times and contributing six assists in 27 matches. This form finally earned him a chance with the first team as Alex Pastoor handed Alhaft a start against Heerenveen. The match ended 3-0 to the Frisian’s but Alhaft made a positive impression and he featured in three of the club’s final five matches, playing the full ninety minutes in a 3-1 win over Go Ahead Eagles on the final day of the season which sealed Sparta’s safety.

Alhaft has four caps for Netherlands at U20 level.

Style of play

Alhaft gained a reputation as one of the most feared wingers in the second division last season and it’s easy to see why when watching him in full flow running at defenders. He isn’t just pace though, with Alhaft possessing a rocket of a left foot and bags of tricks. He even showed an ability from dead ball situations by scoring a lovely free-kick against Jong FC Twente. The 20-year-old can be deployed on both sides but looks at his best on the right when he can cut inside and unleash crosses or shots on goal.

Alhaft does rely heavily on his left foot, though, and could benefit from developing his right in order to become a little less predictable. However, he is still hard to stop when cutting onto his left, just like a certain Arjen Robben.

What to expect from Alhaft this season

Alhaft proved himself in the reserves last year and has been a regular during pre-season, scoring a leveller against Club Brugge in a respectable 1-1 draw. He will be aiming to become first choice on the right wing and if he impresses that could lead to not only a call-up to Netherlands U21’s, but a move to a bigger club come January or the end of the season.

The winger is definitely one of the most gifted attackers to appear from the Sparta Academy in recent years and fans will be eager to see if he can live up to expectations.

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