Just over a month ago, 17 year-old Zidane Iqbal signed his first professional contract with Manchester United. The club were eager to keep him on board and continue to oversee his development.
Iqbal is Manchester-born, with an Iraqi mother and Pakistani father.
In a recent interview published on Givemesport.com, the midfielder was asked who his favourite player was, to which he answered, ‘Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona’, and the similarities are there.
The first thing you notice when watching Iqbal, is how he glides across the pitch with the ball. He also has a mature awareness of space around him and, like De Jong, knows exactly which way to turn and move with the ball to evade pressing and tackles. This, combined with good passing range and an ability to finish makes him almost the complete midfielder. There are also similarities to the German, Toni Kroos. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of work ahead of him to make it to United’s first team, but the talent-potential is there.
ManUtd.com shows a video of a recent stand-out performance against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The hip-swivels while dribbling, to throw the defenders, for his second goal were brilliant.
Iqbal had only just returned from a three month injury absence against Wolves, something that the player and coaching staff will be mindful of and hopeful doesn’t recur.
The youngster’s favoured position is in attacking midfield, an area where, at youth level, he can use his dribbling skills and good shot to create danger, however, a slight lack of pace and good passing technique might mean that he ends up performing at his best in a deeper playmaking role, again, similar to the likes of De Jong. In the Wolves match above, he played mainly as that number six. Iqbal, however, will point to his five goals in 14 appearances this season.
United now have several young midfield talents including, James Garner, on loan at Nottingham Forest, Hannibal Mejbri, Isak Hansen-Aaroen and Charlie Savage, along with Iqbal, all who have the potential to break into the first team.