Heerenveen are by no means the richest or most endowed club in the Eredivisie. Sitting in the northwest of Holland, the club however, has almost an inexhaustible line of talent coming through – like near rivals Groningen too. The production line of Ajax and Feyenoord are well-documented but these clubs are kind of like feeder clubs to the aforementioned, who serve as feeder clubs to better, bigger leagues.

The list of players to have been nurtured and honed at Heereveen is amazing – be it as a professional into their career, or in their academy. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ruud van Nistelrooy, new-Newcastle signing Daryl Janmaat, Croatia half-centurion Danijel Pranjic and current Ajax Player of the Year, Lasse Schone have all played in Heerenveen before going on to make moves to bigger platforms.

The latest addition to that list could be young 21-year-old attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech.

Ziyech was promoted from the Academy by then-manager Marco van Basten to fill the void left by departing playmaker Filip Djuricic and he took absolutely no time in not only taking to the league but absolutely blowing it out of the waters. Playing in a No. 10 role in the traditional Dutch 4-3-3, the Dutchman of Moroccan descent notched up 9 goals and 10 assists. But stats say little – even stats as amazing as that.

Ziyech has been an effervescent influence on field for Heerenveen, operating last season, behind the amazingly effective (though now all departed) trio of van La Parra-Finnbogasson-Basacikoglu. Drawing parallels to Germany and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, the Dronten-born midfielder possesses a composure well beyond his years and experience. Calm on the ball, technically extremely sound and equally aware of teammates, Ziyech is a quintessential attacking midfielder by Dutch expectations.

Of course, his exploits have not gone unnoticed by the bigger teams. Ajax were reported to be interested earlier this window and Feyenoord were looking to plug the hole left by the potential departure of Jordy Clasie with Ziyech, but ultimately, it looks like Twente – desperate to get over the loss of the inimitable Dusan Tadic – have won the race for his signature, reportedly agreeing a four-year-deal with the Dutchman.

Ziyech was applauded off by even the opposing Feyenoord fans in the recent 1-1 draw between Heerenveen and the giants from Rotterdam and has won fans all over the Netherlands – as much as Heerenveen are a generally well-liked club around the country.

However, Schreuder has to be shrewd in his usage of Ziyech. At such a young age, overplaying and underplaying can hboth ave equally detrimental effects. Luciano Narsingh – once the assisting machine at Heerenveen and the touted future of the Oranje – has faltered since making the step up to PSV. More similar to Ziyech, Adam Maher tore the league apart with his play-making while in Alkmaar – though his stats in 12-13 were still not as impressive as Ziyech’s last season. However, a move to PSV has seen him being used in a slightly deeper, defensively demanding role by Philip Cocu and the ex-AZ youngster found it extremely hard to establish himself and his influence on the team. One would only hope Hakim does not go the same way.

As far as a Tadic replacement goes – who on a different note, had a very bright Premier League debut – Ziyech can play on the flanks too but is not as ambidextrously adept down the wings as he is pulling the strings in a very central role. With a fantastic vision and the skill and technical ability to execute it, his addition could also aid Luc Castaignos who has been forced to play the No. 10 role recently. He is much better as a striker and moreover, can even better last season’s goal tally with the service of Ziyech and even bargain-of-the-window South African Kamohelo Mokotjo in midfield beside him.

On Heerenveen’s side lies the same predicament that an Ajax or Feyenoord face after the loss of a key player amidst an exodus – they simply have to move on and dip their hands deep into their river of young talent and pull out another gem – already formulating in the form of 18-year-old Daley Sinkgraven.

The Netherlands loves Friesland for the milk and the horses it so constantly provides the country with. With Hakim Ziyech, it seems Friesland has other gems to offer.

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