Eredivisie Revelations 4 – Heerenveen’s Hakim Ziyech outshines Finnbogason

Over the next few days, BeNeFoot will countdown the top 10 revelations to come through in the Eredivisie this season.

We look at the brightest players who have emerged and impressed fans and pundits alike with an excellent 2013-14 season. Numbers 10 through 5 have already been unveiled and today we continue the countdown with number four.

Hakim Ziyech – By Peter McVitie

Despite his 29 goals and ten assists in 31 games in the Eredivisie, it is really no huge shock that the league’s top goalscorer and Heerenveen’s star striker, Alfred Finnbogason, didn’t win the club’s Player of the Year award.

Instead, the Icelandic goal machine was left in the wake of 21-year-old attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech, who won the hearts of the club’s fans as well as the acclaim from pundits with his remarkable performances in his breakthrough season.

The versatile youngster, who is most effective in the attacking midfield role but can play deeper in midfield or on the left wing, has been a critical part of Marco van Basten’s squad as club from the north of the Netherlands reached the Europa League playoffs.

Having been with the Frisian club since he was 11-years-old, the Dutch youngster of Moroccan descent broke into the first team this season, playing an increasingly crucial role as the campaign wore on.

As Finnbogason set the league alight with 14 goals in his first 12 games, De Superfriezen began to build an overreliance on their talisman and, as he grew unhappy and frustrated at the club for several reasons and opponents began to mark him more closely, the team began to struggle.

Ziyech has been key to this Heerenveen team

However, the young apprentice stepped forward, ready to take the brunt of responsibility from the frontman’s shoulders and place them on his own.

With his excellent dribbling ability and pace as well as his creativity and passing accuracy, the attacking midfielder is developing into an all-round fantastic player. He is extremely effective in the opponent’s final third as he can pull the strings and link up with the striker or burst forward with pace and threaten on his own.

With nine goals and nine assists in the league this season, he is by far Heerenveen’s most productive and important player after Finnbogason and the speed at which he has developed and taken on that role in his first season has been incredibly impressive.

As the season progressed and his performances improved, there were growing fears that, with his contract expiring in the summer, he would head for the exit door of the Abe Lenstra to join one of the league’s giants for free. Ajax were said to be interested, with coach Frank de Boer praising him earlier in the season. “He’s a true technician, with a lot of creativity and skill in his left foot. He’d definitely fit in at Ajax.”

As well as the Amsterdam powerhouse, PSV also showed their interest in the player, contacting his agent about his availability.

However, Heerenveen managed to convince the attacker to sign a one year extension.

“I think I will stay for another year,” Ziyech told Fox Sports but refused to rule out a move this summer. “Never say never. You never know how it will go.”

Now that Heerenveen have him tied for another year, they will do their utmost to prevent him from joining Van Basten and Finnbogason on the way out. With players like Bilal Basacikoglu, Daley Sinkgraven, Joost van Aken and Luciano Slagveer coming through, Ziyech’s importance will only increase next season.

Although a young player himself, having more youngsters in the squad will make Heerenveen a quick and dangerous team and with Finnbogason departing, even more responsibility will be heaped upon Ziyech’s shoulders. The team’s main creative outlet may be called upon to hit the back of the net more often as well.

However, if Ziyech continues to develop at this rate, next season will be a prosperous and exciting one for him, with even more to follow.

*All stats courtesy of Opta

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