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The young midfielder has attracted the interest of some of the continent's biggest names and could have a bright future ahead of him both at club and international level

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By Stefan Coerts | Dutch Football Editor

The Netherlands' national side has traditionally been a good reflection of the multicultural society that is so typical of Holland, and players with Surinamese, Indonesian or Netherlands Antilles' roots have all regularly worn the orange jersey over the years. Yet, despite the rather big Moroccan community, very few players who originally hail from the North-African country have represented the 2010 World Cup finalists so far.

Former AZ star Dries Boussatta was something of a pioneer when he made his official debut in the international friendly against Germany in November 1998, but the winger never managed to become a regular in Oranje.

Nevertheless, defender Khalid Boulahrouz and versatile attacker Ibrahim Afellay have both done the Moroccan community proud in recent years by making over 30 international appearances for Holland. And there is even more to come from Dutch-Moroccans as one of the most exciting talents in the Eredivisie at the moment is also of North-African descent. AZ wonderkid Adam Maher has been in impressive form in the 2011-12 campaign, and the attacking midfielder made headlines earlier this week when it was reported that Barcelona are keeping tabs on him.

CAREER STATISTICS | Adam Maher (AZ & Netherlands)

Age: 18

Position: Attacking midfielder
Value: €3m

Contract: 2015

 Attributes:
Passing, vision, technique
Height Club Weight Place of Birth Former club
1.74 m
AZ
75 kg
Diemen, Netherlands
Zeeburgia

The 18-year-old was born and raised in Diemen and first caught the eye of scouts in the region during his spell with illustrious amateur side Zeeburgia. However, although the club are located barely 10 kilometres from Ajax's Amsterdam ArenA, Maher did not leave for the reigning Eredivisie champions, but joined AZ instead at the tender age of 11.

Maher didn't need long to make an impact at the Alkmaar based outfit as he was seen as one of the biggest talents in AZ's youth academy right from the start, and, as his father, Ider, revealed earlier this week, clubs such as AC Milan, Manchester City and Olympique Lyonnais all unsuccessfully attempted to lure him away from the AFAS Stadium.

"He could have joined AC Milan, Manchester City or Olympique Lyonnais a few years ago. It was too early for a move abroad, though - and it still is. Adam is still too young for such a big step. There's plenty of time to leave in three or four years time," Maher Sr said on Wednesday.

 REPRESENTING MOROCCO
EL HAMDAOUI
EL AHMADI ASSAIDI



The midfielder will not regret his decision to stay put as head coach Gertjan Verbeek offered him the chance to prove his worth in the Europa League match versus BATE Borisov in December 2010, and Maher rewarded the AZ boss by scoring on his debut.

Only in 2011-12 has Maher really made a name for himself, though, as he has developed into an important first-team member in Maarten Martens' injury-enforced absence. The promising youngster has proven to be a worthy replacement for the Belgium international and is already responsible for some of the highlights of the current season.

His breathtaking through-pass with the outside of his boot for Charlison Benschop in the 2-2 Eredivisie draw away against Ajax illustrated both his excellent vision and his accurate passing skills, while the brilliant individual skill shown before netting the winner against Heracles last weekend gave the world an impression of his close control and technique.

 GOING DUTCH
BOULAHROUZ
AFELLAY


Maher's rise to prominence has inevitably led to interest from several of Europe's finest clubs, and Barcelona certainly won't be the only team with a scout in the stands when AZ lock horns with ADO Den Haag at the weekend. Yet, it seems unlikely that the gifted midfielder will leave his current club in the near future, especially as he has a contract until June 2015.

A more relevant topic for the youngster is where his international allegiance lies. Maher has been included in the provisional Netherlands Under-21 squad for the upcoming match against Scotland U21, but Morocco coach Eric Gerets is closely monitoring his progress and is determined to try and convince the midfielder to play for the Lions of the Atlas. The AZ star thus faces an interesting, yet complicated decision in the upcoming months.

Fellow Dutch-Moroccans such as Mounir El Hamdaoui, Karim El Ahmadi and Oussama Assaidi have previously made the decision to represent the African nation. However, others like the previously mentioned Afellay and Boulahrouz chose Oranje instead. Regardless of his decision, there's little doubt that Maher has a bright future ahead of him and that the Moroccan community has every reason to be proud of the creative midfielder.

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