Liverpool could find themselves in a transfer tug-of-war with Atletico Madrid, should they decide to compete for Zakaria Bakkali in the coming days. The 18-year-old Belgium winger plays for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and is considered as one of the brightest prospects in Europe, often drawing comparisons with his fellow compatriot Eden Hazard.
He became a quick sensation in the Dutch league, after becoming the youngster ever player to score a hat-trick in the Eredivisie. But since then his career at the Dutch club has taken a down turn; partly due to instability at the club but major proportion of blame should direct to the player himself with his attitude problem striking out like a sore thumb so early in his career. Not only did he refused to sign a contract extension at PSV but his non professional behaviour at times has led the club force him train with the reserves.
Portuguese media first reported that PSV are negotiating a deal for Porto’s Steven Defour where Bakkali could be used in a potential swap deal. Belgium website Sport Voetbal magazine claimed that Liverpool are showing a keen interest in him and coukd offer around €5-6m for his signature. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf also covered a short report on this, but they claimed PSV are holing talks with an unknown club for the possible transfer of Bakkali.
Now, Spanish newspaper AS claim today that the ‘unknown’ club is Atletico Madrid and that the La Liga outfit are ‘very close’ in securing a deal for him.
Atletico will have to decide how to utilise him properly as he’s only 18 and not experienced enough at the highest levels. There could be three possible solutions: (1) loaning him out to another La Liga club where he can adapt to the league and mature as a player (2) moving him to Atletico’s ‘B’ team and giving him the opportunity to occasionally train with the first team and (3) staying in the squad as a 4th striker option.
To be honest, we don’t really know, how serious Liverpool are in landing him, as the Reds have other targets of their own. It will be interesting to see whether they follow up the interest with any concrete offer or not or leave it for Atletico to seal the deal.