Holland’s U17 side crashed out of the World Cup at the semi-final stage following a penalty shootout defeat against Mexico.
One major positive to take from the competition though, was the form of Jayden Braaf, who scored two goals and provided two assists in six appearances.
Against Senegal, in their second game, the teenager hit the bar, teased and tormented and generally made one hell of an impact.
🇸🇳Senegal vs 🇳🇱Netherlands 3-1
Dutch talents still can't find the flow. Jayden Braaf the only positive tonight.
— FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) October 30, 2019
Making one hell of an impact is what the Amsterdam-born talent does. Having joined Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad on his sixteenth birthday last summer Braaf impressed in his first year, appearing for the under 18s, under 19s and scoring twice in a EFL Trophy win against a Rochdale side that featured many of their first team.
In the latter fixture only the woodwork deprived him of a hat-trick while his second of the night displayed what he is all about: first twisting the full-back’s blood before calmly dispatching a low shot into the far corner.
So notable were his performances drifting in from the left to capitalise on a wicked right foot that City wasted no time in tying him down to professional terms, with a contract that runs until 2023 and with his future committed to Braaf can now look to the distance and the challenge to break through into Pep Guardiola’s squad of superstars.
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First though there is the Under 23s to navigate and following his fast-tracked promotion to the higher level.
The electric prospect, who has admitted to learning a lot from Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, is well on his way to passing that test with flying colours.
In the Ukraine at the start of this campaign Braaf was involved in all three of City’s goals in their UEFA Youth League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk and it is performances such as these that recently led his manager Paul Harsley to say: “You can see with the goals he has scored and the chances he has created that – whether he goes outside or inside – he gives opposition defences all sorts of problems.”
His exhilarating wing-play has also, somewhat inevitably, drawn comparisons with Jadon Sancho, City’s previous attacking prodigy who left for Borussia Dortmund to fully fulfil his potential while another City support on Twitter offers up a revealing insight into how highly Braaf is rated by those in the know.
Jayden Braaf is already better than Jadon Sancho.
— Guardiolista 💎 (@City_Agenda) October 11, 2019
Was speaking to Frank Arnesen the other week at Gibraltar v Denmark, his son is a scout for city and he thinks Braaf is the best young player he has seen at that age. Expecting big things
— Luke Barlow (@lukeyb97) September 18, 2019
“I’m good on one-v-ones and I like the responsibility. It’s the beginning,” the youngster said earlier this term but though these are undoubtedly exciting times for the flyer – and growing proof too that City have unearthed a genuine gem – determining what it’s the beginning of leads us to some uncertainty.
But surely this will come too soon for a player yet to celebrate his 18th birthday to step up as a replacement; surely he will need at least another year of development before he gets even a sniff of first team action.
This explains Manchester City’s keen interest in Real Sociedad wide-man Mikel Oyazabal and should the 22-year-old head to the Premier league that then gives City a full compliment again of attacking flair.
Sterling. Oyarzabal. Bernardo Silva. Riyad Mahrez. Regardless of Braaf’s promise it will be an intimidating task to jump such a queue. It will nigh-on impossible.
That though is a concern that can very much be put on hold for now.
At present Jayden Braaf is excelling and improving in equal measure.
He is one to watch for sure.