Belgian starlet Zakaria Bakkali has revealed he turned down a move to Manchester City in 2011.
The 17-year-old PSV Eindhoven ace is one of the most highly-rated prospects in Europe and is currently the top scorer in the Eredivisie with three goals to his name.
Bakkali says that he was approached by a host of big clubs after making a name for himself at the Nike Cup two years ago, and says he visited Manchester City ahead of a potential switch to the Etihad Stadium.
However the talented youngster was eventually persuaded to stay in the Netherlands by his father in order to help his development.
“A bunch of agents wanted to represent me after I was voted best youth player in the world at the Nike Cup at the age of 15,” Bakkali told Sport/Voetbalmagazine.
“I considered leaving PSV and even visited Manchester City to sign a contract there. But my dad convinced me not to leave and I signed a three-year deal with PSV instead.”
When it comes to Bakkali's development he can have no better mentor than former Dutch international Mark van Bommel, who ended his career with PSV last season.
“Mark van Bommel played a big role in my development, just like [former PSV star] Dries Mertens,” Bakkali continued.
“I have to learn to keep things simple. I can dribble one or two opponents, but they will foul me after that. Van Bommel in particular showed me that in training. He never hurt me, though.
However the 17-year-old was quick to play down comparisons with Brazil legend Romario.
“People already compare me to Romario because of my style of play, but I still have a long way to go.”
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