When the news broke that Liverpool FC signed Oussama Assaidi from SC Heerenveen, many eyebrows of Liverpool fans raised. Who’s this lad? What kind of player is he? Is he good enough to succeed at our club?
Oussama Assaidi was born in Beni-Boughafer, Morocco in 1988. At a young age he moved to Amsterdam. It was on the streets of the Dutch capital where he started to play football with his friends. In his current game you can see the influence from this with his tricks, beating defenders by either sheer pace or with quick feet. Playing football on small squares in your neighbourhood is all about stealing the show, being a showman. That’s something you can’t deny about Assaidi: he is a showman.
People who are born and bred in Amsterdam have a certain “Amsterdamse bluff” around them; a positive arrogance that’s typical for Amsterdammers. They’re confident about themselves. Assaidi fits that profile. He’s not afraid to take on defenders, can be selfish from time to time. It happens actually more than you wish it would. But if you ask a player if they’d rather stand alongside him or face him as an opponent, the answer will always be the first.
You could describe Assaidi as a fine street footballer, smarts picked up by playing games like “panna knock-out” and such coupled with the disciple he has as a professional. A dynamic winger that can play either on the left or the right. In my eyes he’s more dangerous from the left as he can cut inside to his right foot and try for an effort on goal. Something he has done many times for Heerenveen and has resulted in beautiful goals. On the left he’s a modern left winger, on the right he’s more of a classic winger like his former team mate Luciano Narsingh. He’s intelligent, creative and has an eye for the goal.
Playing football on small squares in your neighbourhood is all about stealing the show, being a showman. That’s something you can’t deny about Assaidi: he is a showman.
His last season at Heerenveen, after joining the Frisian club in 2009, was his most prolific one. He was one of the cornerstones in the team alongside Luciano Narsingh, Bas Dost and Filip Djuricic. A move away was bound to happen and something he wanted; he flirted with Galatasaray and his boyhood club Ajax, who Heerenveen had agreed a deal with. Assaidi declared more than once he wanted to join the Amsterdammers - he wanted to live close to his family (his father recently passed away) and he said money wasn't an issue. But it was. Personal terms couldn’t be met due to his wage demands. Despite that, a breakthrough seemed imminent, until suddenly out of nowhere Liverpool showed interest. They could meet his wage demands and Assaidi wasn’t moving to the Dutch capital but instead to one of England’s football capitals.
Still, Assaidi faces a huge challenge to succeed at Liverpool Football Club but that’s something he is not afraid of. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and knows he’s talented enough. His determination and disciplinee are admirable. First up for him is gaining playing time and taking that opportunity with both hands to maintain a regular spot in Brendan Rodgers team. Rodgers’ style of play and ethos are similar to what Assaidi was used at his spell at Heerenveen under Ron Jans.
It will take time for the Moroccan international to acclimatise to his new surroundings and the new league. It’s not a secret the level of the Premier League is a few steps above the Eredivisie. The challenges he’ll face on the pitch are nothing compared to the ones he faced in Heerenveen’s blue and white. Midfield and defences are more packed, add that to the physical nature of the Premier League there are enough things that Assaidi needs to get used to.
Assaidi has the talent and everything in his game to succeed. It might take a while for him to really adapt to the English game, but if Liverpool and their fans are patient, he will be a player they’ll grow to enjoy.
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