Meet the 18-year-old Belgian wonder kid Stoke City are pursuing

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Scoring a hat-trick on your home debut would normally adorn yourself to a manager’s plans, and secure a regular place in the starting line-up, but not for PSV’s Zakaria Bakkali, and now Stoke City are taking notice.

The 18-year-old became the youngest player to bag three goals in an Eredivisie match when making his mark for the Eindhoven club against NEC Nijmegen in August last year.

However in the following 16 months, the Belgian has failed to hold down a starting spot, making 30 appearances, mostly from the bench.

With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, he is free to talk to clubs in January, and looks likely to leave the club he has been at since the age of 12.

But PSV are keen to recoup some money for the hot prospect and are reportedly keen to sell the player altogether in the upcoming window.

Stoke City are in the market for a wide-man and the once-capped international certainly fits the bill.

A move to the Potteries could well be on the cards, with Bakkali’s agent Marcel Veerman outlining his plans for his client:

“The most important [thing] for Zakaria is the chance of playing time. That is paramount. Stoke see [players] like him coming, so therefore it is an option,” he told Dutch football website Voetbal International.

Bakkali has yet to feature for the senior club at the Philips Stadion this season after being castigated when refusing to sign a contract extension, and has been limited to five appearances for Jong PSV in the Eerste Divisie.

With both Victor Moses sidelined through injury, and Oussama Assaidi failing to hold down a place, there could well be a position to slot straight in to for the diminutive winger.

The likes of Liverpool and Arsenal are also rumoured to also be interested in securing the youngster’s signature, but with first-team football unlikely at either of those clubs, a move to the Britannia Stadium might seem like the obvious choice.

Mark Hughes will certainly be hoping he can coax more moments like this out of Bakkali…

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.