Zakaria Bakkali is one of the most in demand prospects in world football.
Currently turning out for PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie, Bakkali made the headlines earlier this season when he refused to train with the senior team to force a move away.
With Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool all interested in the ‘new Eden Hazard’, the once-capped Belgian youngster turned down a new contract with PSV, and his decision to turn his back on the club caused PSV Sporting Director Marcel Brands to freeze the 18-year-old out of the first-team fold.
He has since been relegated to Jong PSV in the Jupiler League, and has scored one goal in five games as he looks to impress potential suitors ahead of his contract expiring at the end of the season. With clubs able to poach him for a negligible compensation fee come July 2015, PSV were said to be keen on cashing in on the winger in January, opening the door to a potential switch to the Premier League - and another surprise club have opened negotiations to bring the youngster to England.
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is said to be a big fan of the youngster, and Dutch media outlet Voetbal International is reporting that the Potters boss has sent an invitation for Bakkali to travel to the Brittania Stadium to start talking about a potential switch. Marcel Veerman - Bakkali’s agent - has claimed that Stoke may also have an advantage in the race for the highly-rated Belgian international, with consistent playing time the most important thing for the youngster - something he is likely to receive with Hughes’s side.
Bakkali could become the next step in Hughes’s plan to create a new attacking Stoke side this season, having already secured former Barcelona wonderkid Bojan over the summer.