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Anwar El Ghazi: Why Real Madrid, Chelsea must wait for Ajax whizkid

Anwar El Ghazi. Real Madrid is watching you...

If the 20 year-old starts next season in an Ajax shirt, he will be certain of one thing: Real Madrid will be watching.

Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid all made enquiries after El Ghazi towards the end of the season. And Real's interest was rumbled by the teen, himself, last month after a visit to the club's Valdebebas training complex was organised by famed Moroccan actor Mimoun Ouled Radi.

"He knew how great my admiration is for Cristiano Ronaldo," recalled El Ghazi. "Mimoun asked the club on my behalf if I could visit a training session and meet Ronaldo."

Such a request would normally be rejected, but El Ghazi was a special case.

"Real Madrid seemed to know me - and I immediately was put on the list."

The news all but confirmed the informed speculation that Real, along with Chelsea, Bayern and Atletico, had been following El Ghazi since his outstanding Toulon Tournament last summer.

It was on the back of that campaign that Frank de Boer chose to throw El Ghazi into the deep end at the start of the season. The then 19 year-old began his first team career as a starter for Ajax against Vitesse Arnhem. The opening Eredivisie game was won 4-1, with El Ghazi boasting an assist from his first 90 minutes of senior football.

"Anwar has played 43 games," said De Boer at the conclusion of the Dutch season last week. "That's like a freshman being immediately elevated to his senior class.

"He's been able to do it because he's in great physical shape.

"It can be difficult for players of his age to maintain such consistency through a season. Usually, you can expect their form to tail off."

El Ghazi's impact was recognised by Ajax's fans, which voted him 'Talent of the Year'.

"This gives me a good feeling," says the winger. "It's a boost that people enjoy watching me play. I want them to know they can expect even more from me."

De Boer says the trophy was well deserved.

"If you have played in your first season in the first team all 42 games, then you are the deserved winner of this trophy. Anwar is a top professional and with his goals and assists has been very important this season."

While a huge Ronaldo fan, El Ghazi says it's not just the former Manchester United star he draws inspiration from.

"Cristiano Ronaldo was and is the example I follow, but I also know that I'm not as good as him. I love to watch and study many great players like Eden Hazard and Arjen Robben."

Now being mentioned alongside Europe's biggest clubs, it'd be understandable if El Ghazi's head has been turned.

But the midfielder insists he's happy in Amsterdam and is grateful to De Boer for the backing he's given him.

"I want to be important for the club," he says. "I can later think about what my future will entail."

It's not just at club level where El Ghazi's emergence is drawing attention.

Guus Hiddink, the Holland coach, has made it clear the youngster is being scouted. With El Ghazi also qualifying for Morocco, Hiddink has been very public about his admiration for the Ajax whizkid.

"You can see that the boy is aware of his development. He has good moments in games and can be very threatening," says Hiddink.

"We like what we see."

El Ghazi admits he's still plenty to prove at Ajax.

"I'm not going to say I should be a major player and the team must follow my lead. People expect more from me, but if I put myself under pressure, it all goes wrong.

"I'm satisfied, but you can always be better. Also, as a team, Ajax should always be champion."

Losing to PSV Eindhoven this season is something El Ghazi wants to put right.

"I'm a winner and I see losing the title as a setback. At the same time, it gives you huge motivation for next year to take a step forward and become a champion."

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