Bakkati: “Siniterra and Malacia can succeed in England because of the pressure”

It is the week of the farewell of Tyrell Malacia and Luis Sinisterra at Feyenoord. The two crowd favorites have developed tremendously in De Kuip in recent years, which has resulted in wonderful transfers to Manchester United and Leeds United respectively. Former assistant coach Said Bakkati experienced this development up close in the 2019/20 season and tells about it

In the summer of 2019, Bakkati arrived in De Kuip as an assistant to the new trainer Jaap Stam. Tyrell Malacia had been a Feyenoord 1 player for two seasons and found himself in a competition with Ridgeciano Haps. Luis Sinisterra’s perspective looked less rosy. He could count on little confidence and seemed to end up at FC Dordrecht on a rental basis. However, the arrival of Stam and Bakkati was just in time for the Colombian. They did give him the chance at Feyenoord, for which he has often expressed his gratitude.

Immediately charmed
“Not everyone was full of praise for Luis,” Bakkati recalls. “They looked more at his weaknesses than at his positive sides. People thought he looked lazy. If you don’t play football well as a team, it is often the technically skilled players who look laconic.” He himself had a different impression of the then 20-year-old Sinisterra. “I was immediately charmed by him. Technically skilled, unpredictable. When we played eleven against eleven in the training sessions, he really stood out.”

Although Sinisterra’s serious breakthrough was yet to come, Bakkati already dared to say that Feyenoord would not be his ceiling. “In the Europa League match against FC Porto he had an action in the corner of the field. He was completely in the crowd, but passed a few men and came out anyway. That is exceptional about him. You can see that in my eyes that he can make it to the top. Such an action shows gogme. You can’t teach that.”

Bakkati also praises the attacker’s character, who he describes as a “very sweet, sociable and ordinary boy.” “Fortunately he had Renato Tapia next to him (who took him by the hand and with whom he could speak Spanish, ed.), but I also tried to create a bond with him. I spoke English with him, sometimes some Spanish. He liked that. When he suffered his serious injury, of course a difficult time followed for him. But even then he remained very involved. He was always next to the training field and was very happy.

‘biter’ Malacia
During the same period, Bakkati also got to know Malacia. “A good, talented player”, he thought at the time. “He has a good character and always gave one hundred percent in training. Really a biter. He could still make steps on the ball, but he did that in the end. He now plays a lot more balls forward, rather than wide or back. He has made a great development.”

Even then, the talent made great strides in the competition with Ridgeciano Haps. “Haps was also a good left-back with a threat up front, maybe more than Tyrell at the time. But Haps was injured a lot. At those moments, Tyrell was there. The most important step he made then is that he has matured. He performed more consistently; no more one game a 9 and the next a 4. That is an important factor, especially for a defender.”

bakkati: "Sinisterra and Malacia can succeed in England because of the pressure"

Three years later, both players have secured their dream move to the Premier League. The move from Sinisterra to Leeds United is an interesting one for Bakkati, who was impressed by that club as an assistant coach at Reading. “Mainly because of the atmosphere in that stadium. It is full of supporters who all love the club equally, comparable to Het Legioen. That pressure suits him. In the big games, like then against Porto, he always stood up. I think it will be a good click.”

Bakkati also pointed to the previous transfers of Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie, who moved from Feyenoord to Liverpool and Arsenal respectively. “I think the players who went from Feyenoord to the Premier League also made it through the pressure in those stadiums. Players like Kuyt and Van Persie have proven that. I hope Luis will do the same. continues to develop and continues to achieve his return, I see him taking an even bigger step in a few years.”

An intermediate step – what Leeds believes will be for Sinisterra according to Bakkati – Malacia skipped. Whether he was right to move directly to a big club like Manchester United? “That always only turns out afterwards. But if such a club reports to you, then you also take that step. Then you don’t say no. He is lucky that there is a Dutch trainer who uses the same football philosophy. I think that the second Classic of last season convinced Erik ten Hag. Someone who can make it so difficult for Antony and who can sit so short for the entire game, that is a player who suits Manchester United.”