2022 World Cup semi-finalists Noussair Mazraoui is challenging 2018 world champion Benjamin Pavard for the right-back berth at Bayern Munich. bundesliga.com profiles the Morocco defender...
Club: Bayern Munich
Country: Morocco (20 caps/ two goals)
Born in the town of Leiderdorp in the Netherlands, Mazraoui joined the Ajax youth setup at the age of seven. Playing mostly as a midfielder as he rose through the ranks at the four-time European champions, Mazraoui initially failed to make a lasting impact. That was until coach Erik Ten Hag decided to gamble on the six footer, who made his senior debut under the current Manchester United boss on 4 February 2018, coming on as a substitute in a 3-1 win against NAC Breda.
Mazraoui would finish the 2017/18 campaign with eight Dutch top-flight appearances, featuring mostly as a central midfielder. However, it was in April of that season that things were to change in spectacular fashion for the Morocco international. Coming in to provide cover at right-back, the then 20-year-old took off, making the position his own in an unforgettable campaign.
In a season that ended with Ajax naming him as their Talent of the Year, Mazraoui won a league and cup double, scoring four goals and providing four assists in an incredible 48 appearances in all competitions. Indeed, it was in 2018/19 that the flying full-back came up against his new team, Bayern, during Ajax's dizzying run to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Mazraoui even scored the equalising goal in the teams' first group-stage meeting, cancelling out a Mats Hummels opener as Ajax earned a 1-1 draw. The Alphen aan den Rijn native also scored against Benfica that season as the Dutch giants lit up the tournament.
Mazraoui had Sergino Dest and injuries to contend with the following campaign, but the 20-time Morocco international roared back. He won another double in 2020/21, before helping Ajax get out of their 2021/22 Champions League group with a 100 per cent record. The Moroccan signed off with five goals and four assists in 34 competitive games in 2021/22, as well as a third Eredivisie winner's medal. He's since produced three assists in 19 appearances for Bayern, winning the Supercup. He was also a cornerstone of the Morocco side that produced one of the biggest World Cup surprises in recent memory as they went all the way to the semi-finals, before losing to Croatia in the third-place play-off.
Plays a bit like: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Much like the current Liverpool right-sided full-back, Mazraoui loves to play in the opposition half, where he revels in one-on-ones and linking up with attacking teammates. He is a stern reader of the game whose tackling can range from the subtle to the visually impressive sliding clearance. What marks Mazraoui out from the rest, however, is his versatility. During his highly successful 2018/19 campaign, for example, he played on both sides of defence and in defensive and central midfield.
Did you know?
Mazraoui had four trials at Ajax before earning a place in the club's academy. "The first time they told me I was too lightweight," he recalled. "It hurt. I was a little boy, and cried. After my fourth try-out, I got an acceptance letter."
What they’re saying
"Noussair is a player who presses forward a lot down the right side. We also really like his mentality - he's fired up for this challenge at FC Bayern." - Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic
“Noussair Mazraoui is the next building block to further strengthen our team in a targeted manner. We've set ourselves big goals again for the new season and players like Noussair expand our options. We're also looking forward to taking on the Champions League again with him and we want to celebrate a lot of successes together in the coming years." - Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn
"I believe Mazraoui is better than Sergino Dest." - Ten Hag
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