Nacer Barazite has found his feet with eight goals in UEFA Europa League qualifying for FK Austria Wien, with the ex-Arsenal FC trainee saying: "It's definitely the best time of my career."
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Finally it seems Nacer Barazite has found his place. Lured from NEC Nijmegen to Arsenal FC as a youngster, he saw precious little first-team action in London despite impressing during a season-long loan at Derby County FC.
After a mooted move to Rangers FC came to nothing, he returned briefly to the Netherlands on loan with Arnhem-based Vitesse last autumn before catching the eye with a goal on trial at FK Austria Wien and duly earning a new start in Vienna. The one-time Dutch youth international went on to net four Austrian Bundesliga goals in the spring.
However, Barazite has topped that achievement with eight more strikes from nine shots on target over the course of six UEFA Europa League qualifiers this season – the highest tally of any player in the competition. "It's definitely the best time of my career," said the 21-year-old, with a slight note of relief in his voice. "Things are working out quite well at the moment."
Those who saw the slight but skilful winger earlier in his career may say that Barazite's luck was always due to turn. He certainly looked a class act for the Oranje at Under-17 and U19 levels, yet he now seems to have added a crucial additional angle to his game – scoring.
Perhaps that sudden fluency in front of goal is down to feeling more settled with Austria Wien. "I am very happy he is scoring so many goals now," said the club's coach Karl Daxbacher. "It was not the case earlier in his career. But it appears Barazite has found his feet for the first time."
Robin van Persie played his part in honing Barazite's skills during their time together at Arsenal. "I wouldn't consider myself similar to any other player as I have my own style but Robin is the one I look up to," the younger man explained in 2010. "He's a good friend of mine. I've known him since I was a young player. He always gives me advice."
After he broke his league duck for the campaign with a strike in a 3-0 derby win at SK Rapid Wien on 21 August, the hope is that Barazite's purple patch will continue into Thursday's UEFA Europa League Group G opener against FC Metalist Kharkiv – opponents whose gallivanting style may give the born-again goalscorer space to showcase his talent.
Already Barazite's horizons are widening. Playing senior international football for Morocco, his parents' homeland, remains a possibility while should his current form continue, Austrian pundits suggest a transfer to an even bigger club could await him.