Adam Maher: The New Sneijder Who Could Transform Manchester City's Midfield
Holland have a history of producing technically gifted players. After all, total football emanated from the Netherlands. It’s no suprise that three of the most exciting prospects in midfield, Jordy Clasie, Kevin Strootman and Adam Maher, are all Dutch, play in the Eredivisie and represent Oranje. The latter is the next big thing on Dutch turf. Maher has always been earmarked as a top prospect.
Adam Maher, born on July 20, 1993 in Ait Izzou, Morrocco, currently plays for Dutch side AZ. Maher moved Diemen, a middle class town near Amsterdam at a young age. Maher 's involvement in football began at the age of five, when he joined home town side SV Diemen. His abilities would lead to a switch to AVV Zeeburgia three years later, before being picked up by AZ in 2004. Maher made his official debut on December 10, 2010 against BATE Borisov in the UEFA Europa League.
The quiet Dutch boy screamed class. He scored one goal in the 3-0 victory and became the youngest ever to score a goal in the Europa League or UEFA cup. (17 years and 147 days). After the season 2011/12, which was his official break through, Maher was voted as Talent of the Year in Holland and received the Johan Cruyff Award. In August he made his debut for Oranje in a friendly against Belgium.
AZ’s number 8 is always the first one on the team sheet despite being 18-years-old. Since his debut he’s been linked to top clubs like AC Milan, FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Olympique Lyon and now Arsenal. Maher himself sees a different career path. He has announced that he’ll leave AZ after this season and would like to join either Ajax or PSV. The latter tried to buy him last transfer window but AZ weren't willing to let him go.
Maher’s style is elegant, happy to receive the ball and either play it instantly or run while in possession. He’s two footed, has a good first touch, including when under pressure and he can supply a good pass when being pressed. He very rarely gives away the ball. He’s positionally astute, shows good awareness and has a great vision.
The young star is composed and assured on the ball and has an elegant touch and dribbling style. He works hard off the ball, chasing opponent down when he has the freedom to roam across the pitch. You’ll never see Maher delaying a counter attack. Penetrative passes are part of his game. He often gets the ball and fires it into a more advanced forward in a good position.
At five foot seven inches, he's not the biggest, and not the strongest. Maher's physical work is improving, but he is still susceptible to being roughed up. He’s not the strongest in the air but he compensates that with an excellent eye for choosing the right position. He also needs some work on his finishing, but with delightful close control, composure and a good range of power in both feet, it looks like being only a matter of time before this improves.
The future is bright for Maher. His talent is beyond dispute. Holland coach Louis van Gaal has compared him to the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart. His exceptional range of passing, both in variation and accuracy, combined with close control, movement and intelligence will bring him to one of Europe’s top clubs sooner or later.