A PLAYER of undoubted talent, Oussama Assaidi arrives at the Britannia Stadium desperate to recapture the form that prompted Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers to splash the cash on the Moroccan winger just twelve months ago.
The livewire attacker, who possesses blistering pace amongst his many impressive traits, was commonly regarded as one of the Eredivisie’s most highly rated players during his time with Heerenveen.
In fact, his performances during the two years prior to his move to Merseyside caught the attention of a whole host of top European side’s, including the likes of Ajax, Inter Milan, Napoli and of course, Liverpool – who ultimately went on to win the race for his signature.
The 25-year-old wasn’t handed top-tier football on a plate however, despite coming through the distinguished AZ Alkmaar academy, which has helped to nurture a large number of Dutch stars.
He was forced to drop down to the First Division to get his professional career underway as an 18-year old back in 2006, spending two seasons with FC Omniworld, where he scored three goals in 36 appearances.
His flamboyant style and direct approach alerted top-flight side De Graafschap in 2008, who struck a deal to take him to De Vijverburg and give him his first crack at the Eredivisie, having failed to make an appearance whilst with AZ Alkmaar.
Their decision to take the gamble on the untested forward reaped its immediate rewards as he became a huge fan-favourite, impressing the De Graafschap faithful with a series of superb performances on the right hand side of a front three.
It was during the opening few months of the 2009/10 campaign Oussama really began to show his true potential though – scoring five goals in his opening five games as well as assisting a further four.
Unsurprisingly, his name was again banded about in the media with links to a number of Dutch side’s, including Heerenveen, who despite announcing that no further incoming transfers would be made prior to the closure of the transfer window, put together a package to sign the forward on deadline day.
A number of eye-catching displays helped Heerenveen elevate themselves away from the relegation areas, although it wasn’t until the following season, under new coach Ron Jans, that he really began to make a major impact in the final third.
A first ever professional hat-trick, as well as a trio of assists helped Heerenveen to memorable 6-2 victory against Dutch top-flight champions FC Twente – a performance that brought with it a first ever call up to the Morocaan national team, for whom he made his debut for against Niger in February 2011.
Domestically, he ended the 2010/11 season with an impressive final tally of nine goals and 13 assists in his 31 games, a record that was bettered the following year when he chipped in with ten strikes from his 27 appearances.
A move to either Ajax or Liverpool seemed inevitable as both Clubs agreed fees with Heerenveen for his services, but it was the chance to showcase his talents on the grandest stage of all, the Premier League, which ultimately led to him choosing Anfield over Amsterdam.
His initial year on Merseyside failed to progress as Oussama would have hoped for though, making just 12 appearances for the Reds, scoring one goal – in their Europa League Qualifying victory against Young Boys.