There is a talent walking around Amsterdam. His name is Anwar El Ghazi, who is of Moroccan origin and he is being linked with some big European clubs. But the question is: is he ready?
But before I tell you my verdict on whether this talent is ready for the next step, let’s take a trip down the career path of Anwar El Ghazi.
El Ghazi’s career did not start in Amsterdam. It started at amateur club BVV Barendrecht in the South of Holland, so contrary to belief he is not a born Amsterdammer like I am sure many were within the Ajax youth system.
He even played for Feyenoord as his first professional club for two years before being let go by the club, a decision they now surely regret.
Unlike many others who get relinquished, El Ghazi did not give up on football but signed for another amateur club called Spartaan ’20. It did not take long until he was found by one of the smaller clubs in Rotterdam: Sparta Rotterdam. He played there until 2013 when he left for Ajax.
El Ghazi forced his way into the lineup as he was supposed to play another season with the A1, Ajax’s under-18 squad, but he finished as top scorer in the preseason for Ajax, scoring 8 goals in 150 minutes; an impressive scoring rate.
He made his official debut in the Johan Cruyff Schaal, the Dutch version of the Charity Shield. From there, it did not take long for him to grab his first competitive goal for Ajax. That goal came in the second round of the Eredivisie vs AZ, where he rasped a shot into the back of the net from outside the box.
He also scored his first goal in Europe this season, and what a place to score it. Albeit just a consolation goal, El Ghazi scored it at the Camp Nou where Ajax lost 3-1.
Although they would not admit it with them being friends and all, but this season was a battle between El Ghazi and Ricardo Kishna (another winger who has broken through this season) to showcase which talent is more primed for the big money move this summer or in the near future. El Ghazi finished the season winning Ajax’s Young Player of the Season.
El Ghazi is a tall, strong, and pacey winger who will always run at defenders. He is skillful as well, even though he showboats at times, which angers his opponents.
El Ghazi is an exciting player who will always try to make things happen. As mentioned above, El Ghazi has pace, strength, and skill in abundance, which makes him very hard to stop when given too much space to run at you.
He is also a good finisher and good in the air, which something you do not see very often in a winger. Another thing which makes El Ghazi so dangerous is his shot from outside the box, which he showed against AZ first of all and has also shown quite a few times since.
I have spoken to a few Ajax season ticket holders to see what they thought were the downsides to El Ghazi. One thing that we all agreed on is something that many wingers have when breaking through, and that is being selfish.
El Ghazi has his moments when a pass would have been a much better option than the dribble or the shot, but this is something which can be cured. Just ask a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Another thing is that El Ghazi is very inconsistent. If he’s in the mood, he can be unstoppable which goes for Ricardo Kishna on the opposite wing as well, but there are many games were both just fade out and it is something which again can and, I think, will be improved by both wingers.
Let’s have a look at El Ghazi’s stats, shall we? The main stat, of course, is that overall this season El Ghazi notched up 10 goals and 8 assists in 40 appearances, which were all in the Eredivisie except for that one goal vs Barcelona.
He had an average of 2.1 shots per game, which shows that he is not afraid to pull the trigger. His pass percentage finished at 74.6, which is okay, but for a team that relies on possession, such as Ajax, he will have to improve on that aspect.
He had 1 key pass per game, which again shows, with the passing accuracy and vision needed at Ajax, that this should actually be more.
A positive was that he had a 0.4 offside rating per match which is a good statistic to have as a winger, although we do know that El Ghazi does not play on the shoulder of the last man and that Ajax’s build-up play is very patient. However, this is still a positive stat for El Ghazi.
Is he ready for the step up?
Rumours are that Chelsea scout Piet De Visser came to watch El Ghazi at the Toulon festival in France but left disappointed. I shared this notion with him as I too was left disappointed with El Ghazi’s performance in the tournament.
But all the Ajax season ticket holders and I agree that El Ghazi is not ready yet.
He has not shown the promise Luis Suarez or Christian Eriksen displayed before leaving, and I think a transfer now would be VERY harmful to his development and could easily see El Ghazi become another Royston Drenthe or Ibrahim Affelay.
So final verdict: If El Ghazi is smart, he will stick with Ajax for a few more seasons as their staff and Frank De Boer are the best people to turn this talented winger into a world-class player in a few years.Published 28 Jun 2015, 20:34 IST