Juventus have snapped up two promising youngsters in the summer transfer window. 16-year-old Czech wonder-kid Roman Macek is a winger while 17-year-old Moroccan Younes Bnou Marzouk plays as a striker.
Roman Macek was born on 18th April, 1997 and considered as one of the brightest Czech talents in his age bracket. Unsurprisingly, he has been compared to another legendary Czech player who found success for Juventus – Pavel Nedved. Hailing from a family with a sporting back ground (his father being a volleyball coach), Macek is midfielder who can operate on either flank with equal ease. Though his family wanted him to become a volleyball player, Macek has been playing football since he was five. He came into prominence while competing with lads older than him in FC Zlin’s youth teams. European scouts soon latched on to his scent and scouts from Juventus, Arsenal and Manchester United were impressed by him. Macek has also been a part of the Czech Republic U17 team and represented them in U17 Euros Elite Group qualification rounds.
Interestingly, in 2012 Macek came to Juventus for a trial, arranged by Sports Investment International. He was present in to watch a Juventus-Napoli match before the trial and even met Pavel Nedved. His trials against older boys had an impression on Juventus as the club moved to seal his transfer in 2013. Macek also had trials in Arsenal in the same period. In June, he had a trial with Manchester United as well.
According to Marek Hábl, Zlin’s youth coach, Macek, standing 185 cm, has extraordinary technique for a player of his age but he still remains largely unpolished. Though Hábl thinks moving to a club with better youth facilities should do his young student a world of good. He points Macek’s technique and pace with the ball (a primary reason to why he was moved to the wings despite starting out as a central midfielder) as his biggest strength while acknowledging that he still needs to work hard on his defensive contributions. Till now, Macek’s best performances have come as one of the front three in a 4-3-3 formation. For the national team, he is often used as a central midfielder though his strongest position at club level remains the right wing. Of course, he is not being brought in to break into Juventus senior team any time soon and for now he will be part of the under-age teams in the club.
Moroccan striker Younes Bnou Marzouk turned 17 on 2nd March this year and has already impressed for his national team in recently concluded U17 Africa Cup of Nations. Placed in Group A, Atlas Cubs opened their campaign with a 4-1 whitewash of Gambia with Marzouk scoring his team’s third goal. His performance against Botswana in the second game was even more impressive as he grabbed a brace with goals in each half. Morocco was knocked out by eventual champions Ivory Coast in the semi-final but Marzouk increased his tally to four goals by scoring the equalizer against Tunisia in third place encounter. He finished as his team’s top scorer and overall joint third highest scorer in the competition. He was also selected as second-best player in the tournament.
Bnou Marzouk started his career when he was nine years old in U.S. Farebersviller 05 before joining SG Marineau and spending five years there. When he was 15, he was spotted by scouts of French club FC Metz and would play for two years for Les Grenats. Bnou Marzouk’s talent was noticed by Moroccan U23 coach Pim Verbeek and he was part of the select group of players who were called up for a training camp in March, which aimed to develop a Moroccan team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Olivier Perrin, the coach of Metz Reserves was particularly sad after hearing Marzouk’s departure. He stated that Bnou Marzouk was one of the players ear-marked to represent the first team of the modest French club in two or three years. In fact, such was his talent that he was given an improved contract in January 2013 – even the likes of Miralem Pjanic didn’t receive such a contract during his time at the club. According to Perrin, the young Moroccan was a rough talent when he arrived but has made rapid improvements in his three years at the club. Perrin identified his pace, learnability and ability to hold off markers as his greatest strengths.
Reports indicate that Bnou Marzouk has signed a three-year contract with Juventus, with an option of extending it for two more years, should he impress the management. He is likely to join the Juventus Primavera team, the oldest of Juve’s under-age groups. He had to say this about his transfer, “When Juventus came, I was not thinking, I accepted immediately. This is a great club that has seen very good players. It will be strange to be away from my family but you must know what you want. I was told that I would start with the subject and then see, depending on my level, if I can play in [Serie] A”.