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Rising Talent: Zakaria Labyad

The attacking midfielder made his first team debut at the age of 16.

PSV Eindhoven missed out on a substantial transfer fee when they let their 19-year-old attacking midfielder Zakaria Labyad join Sporting CP on a free transfer.

The Moroccan offensive player snubbed a contract from the Dutch giants and will join up with the Portugese club in the summer.

Labyad made his first team debut for PSV in the UEFA Europa League when he came on as a substitute against Hamburger SV and since then has never looked back. He has since gone on to make 60 appearances and counting for his club of which he signed to their youth system in 2004. He graduated from the youth system in 2009 when he signed his first and only professional contract - the contract that is expiring this summer.

On the international stage, Labyad has made one appearance for Morocco and switched his international allegiance after representing Netherlands at Under 17 level three times in 2009. He then went on to represent Morocco Under 23s where he has made 10 appearances and scored 4 times.

The striker still lives in Utretch, his hometown, where he commutes to Eindhoven daily to train and play for the Dutch side.

Labyad’s idol is former PSV player Ibrahim Afellay and he said: “Ibrahim is my idol. I have a lot of respect for him, not only because he plays in the same position as me, but also because as a person, he’s someone I look up to.”

This season in 38 appearances he has grabbed 7 goals but made 11 assists, proving he doesn’t just have an eye for goal and does make a huge contribution to the team.

Just after his 17th birthday in April 2010, Labyad grabbed his first goal on his first start for PSV against Groningen and it came in style as he cut in from the left flank and drove a powerful arching effort into the top corner. This debut got even better as he also grabbed his second of the match later on. This game really sent vibes around the Netherlands as a player to watch out for in the future.

Labyad is a very quick attacker and has great feet to match. His ball control is superb which makes for rapid acceleration. However, he needs to become stronger as he is sometimes caught avoiding confrontations and big tackles with mammoth defenders.

This video shows the best of Labyad in action.

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About Tom Bennett

I'm a 21-year-old Multimedia Journalism student at Bournemouth University aspiring to be one of Britain's top sports journalists. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for contact and further information.

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