Munir El Haddadi, currently aged 20, has burst off onto the scene in dramatic style as he hits the ground running in the Barcelona first-team. He is a youth talent with a lot of potential to be special in the future, and certainly one to look for many years to come. He has already dazzled supporters and admirers with his attacking flair, skill and goal-scoring ability is impressive at such a young age.
He joined the youth ranks at Barcelona back in 2011, after spells at Atlético Madrid and Rayo Majadahonda (on-loan) in the season before that. Already starred for the Barcelona first-team, flourished in the Spanish youth national teams and earned himself a senior cap… if that’s not potential, I’m not sure what is!
He is a Muslim and grew up as a Real Madrid fan, living 30 miles away from Madrid itself with his mother, father and three siblings.
CHANCE TO SHINE:
He scored 30 goals in 29 matches whilst playing for Rayo Majadahonda’s team on-loan, after an impressive trial four years ago. UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid and defending EPL champions Manchester City were just two of the teams in Europe interested in the youngster, but he signed for La Masia the following summer and has not looked back since.
Then, he made his UEFA Youth League debut against the Ajax U-19 team, scoring two goals in the same match. Two goals against AC Milan and Copenhagen‘s youth sides aswell as Benfica in the final itself, helped him to establish himself as a player with a big future amongst the stars currently flourishing at Barca. He signed a contract extension a few months ago back in March, meaning that his future with the club is settled until June of 2017.
He made his professional debut for the Barcelona B side back in March of 2014, and ever since then has been heavily tipped to make his official debut in La Liga itself. Well, on the 24th of August[same year], he did just that! He started and SCORED on his debut against Elche at the Nou Camp, before being subbed off for Pedro with 20 minutes to play.
He was called up to the Spanish U-21 side for the first time the week afterwards despite reports suggestting that Qatar had offered him a financial deal to take Qatari nationality and play for them, but national team manager Vicente del Bosque called Munir up to the senior squad for the first time as Chelsea striker Diego Costa was injured and he replaced him in the team! He made his debut against Macedonia in a 15 minute cameo appearance, and he’ll be hoping for many more caps to come in future..
Munir is already becoming a household name in the side, and is good friends with his senior team-mates. As a result of his development in such a short space of time, as well as his recent showings for both the youth team and the first-team, he was been nominated for the 2014 Golden Boy award, a prestigious honour in itself.
Pace: His pace is electric, which helps him to beat defenders cooly and get in-behind the opposition effectively especially with a defence-splitting pass from the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Rakitic alongside him in the first-team.
Dribbling: His silky dribbling skills are just one of his qualities, as he can weave past markers with ease and create chances out of nothing in a tricky situation.
Passing: His vision is good, as he always looks up to find team-mates in space or in better positions than him – will slot in like a glove to the Barca first-team, for sure.
Link-up play: His link-up play is one of his most impressive strengths, he is eager to get team-mates involved in the play with sly give-and-go passes and overlapping runs spin defenders out of the way.
Holding onto the ball: Often, although he is eager to get himself into good positions, Munir struggles to hold onto the ball in tricky areas. For example, he could be on the wing with the ball at his feet, and suddenly become swamped with markers all over him – he’ll try and get out of the danger and run into trouble, before losing the ball eventually. His vision is good, but could be improved to work on his final ball.
Defensive contribution: Although this is not a must, you could argue that Munir could work on his defensive contribution nonetheless. Tracking back, not bad – but he’ll be hoping he can get stuck into tackles without the risk of getting injured.
Certainly one to watch, at the right club to flourish for many years to come.