Leeds United could be eyeing up a successor to one of Marcelo Bielsa’s most-trusted stalwarts…
According to ESPN journalist Mark Ogden, the Yorkshire giants are one of the teams monitoring the situation of Noussair Mazraoui at Eredivisie champions Ajax.
The 12-cap Morroco right-back is able to negotiate with non-Dutch teams from January as he remains out of contract in the summer, despite being a key part of Erik ten Hag’s side.
Premier League rivals Arsenal are also interested in the 23-year-old, who is currently valued at £16.2m by Transfermarkt.
Mazraoui has started 11 of the Dutch giants’ 12 league games this campaign, missing out just once through illness and across all competitions, he has contributed four goals and three assists, as per Transfermarkt.
Only two other players have scored more goals for Ajax this term.
Furthermore, he rates out as ten Hag’s second-best player (7.87), having averaged 2.3 tackles, 1.8 dribbles and 1.7 key passes per league outing, via WhoScored.
These returns suggest that the 6-foot defender is very much a solid option – at both ends of the pitch – as he can get up and down using his pace, physicality and attacking flair.
Earlier this season, the Ajax boss revealed his hope of Mazaroui signing an extension and at the same time, praised his impact. He told reporters (via CCeit):
“Let that be an example for many. He’s a top fit right now and always wants to get the most out of his own. I hope he’ll keep it up. Last year I said he can contribute a lot more offensively. But he has played really good matches for that as well. Yes, of course [I want him to stay here].”
Meanwhile, former PSV and Hannover star Arnold Bruggink lauded him “fantastic” and hailed his versatility.
“He cannot be defended, because he walks everywhere,” he claimed before later adding: “He runs deep as a striker, then he is an extra midfielder, then he is just right back. I think: that variation with which he plays, no opponent can handle that at the moment.”
The 24-year-old also impressed in the Champions League last season, and during one game, he managed to keep Liverpool’s deadly duo of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah quiet – the only goal they scored was an own goal from fellow full-back Nicolas Tagliafico.
As per SofaScore, the Ajax gem recorded five tackles (most in the team), three interceptions and two blocks, whilst he also won six duels and created one key chance up against the Senegalese sensation.
On the above evidence, Mazraoui could be a really exciting fit under Bielsa, even more so with Luke Ayling entering his thirties. The former Arsenal graduate has faced more than enough time on the sideline through injury this campaign, too, which is a worrying sign.
Victor Orta and co should ultimately look to sign the Ajax jewel as a priority heading into 2022.