Abdelhak Nouri, who has already been compared to Johan Cruyff despite not yet making his senior Ajax debut, has described "the ball as my greatest friend".
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Yet to make his senior Ajax debut but already compared to Johan Cruyff in some quarters, Abdelhak Nouri is expected to have an exciting future.
Name: Abdelhak Nouri
Debut: 9 January 2016 v Hamburg (friendly)
Date of birth: 2 April 1997
Preferred foot: right
Height: 170 cm
They say …
"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."
Journalist and presenter Henk Spaan
"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
"These are the guys you go to the stadium to watch."
Head of Ajax youth department Wim Jonk
Amsterdam-born Nouri, nicknamed 'Appie', joined the Ajax youth set-up aged seven and has been through every stage since. He made his first-team debut in a friendly last month but is still waiting for his competitive bow. The 18-year-old was a key member of the Netherlands side that finished runners-up at the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
Playing style …
Predominantly right-footed but more than capable on his left, Nouri is particularly impressive in tight areas. He passes with a velvet touch and has a knack of scoring goals, as well as being an excellent leader and reader of the game.
Shades of …
Likened by Spaan to Cruyff, the teenager actually models himself on Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta. What Nouri lacks in strength and physique, he more than makes up for in terms of technique.
Eureka moment …
Though Nouri has been recognised for some time inside the club as an exceptional talent, his performances in the UEFA Youth League have alerted much of the rest of Europe. His showings against Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain in last season's edition were especially eye-catching.
Best-case scenario …
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. After that, who knows?
He says …
"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."