The Eredivisie has been a hub of talents for a long time. Many exciting prospects over the years have experienced their breakthrough years in the Netherlands' top division. This season, several top young talents have emerged but it is Mohamed Ihattaren who has caught the eyes of many, some even going to the extent of dubbing him 'the future of Dutch football.'
The playmaker has made massive strides since making his debut at the beginning of last year and this year it looks like he has already cemented himself in PSV Eindhoven's long term plans. He has featured in 24 games for PSV Eindhoven in all competitions so far this season. In this piece, I take a look at the detailed analysis of Mohamed Ihattaren, dwelling on his style of play and his special attributes as a player.
Who is Ihattaren?
Mohamed Amine Ihattaren was born on the 12th of February 2002 in Utrecht, the Netherlands to parents of Moroccan origin. The 17-year-old has already represented the Dutch youth national teams in both the U17 and U19 levels and was part of the Netherlands U17 team who won the 2018 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
Ihattaren began his career at SV Houten before moving to the youth set up of PSV Eindhoven in 2010 after PSV scouts spotted him during a series of talent days organized by the club. The young left-footed play-maker was handed his senior debut for the club in January of 2019 against Groningen by Mark Van Bommel, a coach who had previously worked with him at the club's U19 level. In an interview with Goal.com, the PSV coach described Ihattaren's quality with the ball as 'extraordinary for his age.'
Ihattaren has made massive progress this season and has managed to establish himself as one of the key players for PSV. In addition to goals and assists that he was not able to deliver during his cameos last season, the 17-year-old's maturity and decision making have contributed a lot in boosting his all-round play. He has so far contributed to 13 goals (6 goals and 7 assists) in 24 appearances, a remarkable output from a 17-year-old.
What is his style of play?
Mohamed Ihattaren is versatile enough to play in multiple positions both in attack and in midfield. This season he has been used both as a central midfielder and as a central attacking midfielder whenever called upon to play in the middle. His position in the attack has mostly seen him play as a right-winger. Looking at his style of play though, it's very clear that the youngster's best potential can be realized when played as the central attacking midfielder. A free role where he will be given the freedom to roam the attacking third will fully utilize his skill set.
Ihattaren is a player who possesses remarkable calmness and composure in the tight areas of the pitch and is, therefore, best suited to playing in between the lines. He has an outstanding ability with the ball thanks to his ball control and quick feet. He has an impeccable first touch even when receiving under pressure and this gives him enough time to plot his next move.
He is good at creating chances from central positions. He has the vision to find the runs of his teammates with well-taken passes in between the defensive lines. He is technically gifted in this aspect and that helps him in creating spaces for himself before executing the final pass. The 17-year-old plays with maturity beyond his age. He knows exactly when to execute the final pass or when to progress with the ball and this makes him a dynamic tool to hurt the opposition with his unpredictability. His style of play almost resembles that of Phillipe Coutinho.
What are his strengths?
Attacking Output could become Ihattaren's biggest strength. This is shown by the numbers he is capable of dropping while still at such a young age. The 17-year-old averages at 2.3 key pass per game in all competitions this season while at the same time able to pop in with 7 assists. His influence on the ball is not only plastered to creating chances but he can also poise a direct goal threat himself.
He has a good shooting technique and has got the ability to create space for himself to shoot. He is also able to produce dangerous runs up-field as an extra attacker during transitions and his off-ball movement often gets himself in advanced positions. This implies that with time, the youngster could become a complete play-maker capable of both creating chances and scoring them.
Ihattaren is also one of the finest young dribblers in the modern game. Considering the fact that most of his dribbles occur at central positions which are normally congested, his 2.8 dribbles per game is impressive. His dribbling success rate and the finish that he is able to pull after a dribble adds to the effectiveness of his skills. He uses his dribbling ability to drive the ball forward and at the same time create spaces for teammates while being pressed.
With this being his first proper season in top-flight football, Ihattaren has many things to learn before being the top player that most people are anticipating he could become. He will certainly become a better player with added experience and I think he would go on to become one of the best play-makers in the world at some stage in his career.Published 31 Jan 2020, 23:25 IST