Tuesday Aug 20, 2019. 11:00
Morocco’s bid to lure rising star Mohammed Ihattaren for the national team appears to have failed for now after he turned down the opportunity to be part of a provisional squad named by new coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ihattaren was born in Utrecht in the Netherlands and is seen as one of the country’s top talents, having part of the side that won the 2018 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
It was reported in February that Spanish giants Barcelona are weighing up a move for him.
Still only 17, he has yet to make his senior national team debut though and so remains a target for Morocco, who have tried to get him to commit to the North African country.
But he is having none of it yet, saying he prefers to keep his options open at this stage of his career.
“I am honoured by the pre-selection, but for the time being I am not going to make my choice,” Ihattaren was quoted by Fox Sports, before hinting he was leaning towards a career with the Dutch.
“We’ll see. I just want to be important and also make an international name for myself. That would be nice in the Netherlands, but also in Morocco. I owe a lot to the Netherlands. I’ll not forget that in my choice.”
With a large pool of Dutch-born players of Moroccan descent in the country, this is not an unfamiliar tussle, with the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Oussama Idrissi and Noussair Mazraoui choosing the African side over the Netherlands in recent years.