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Nacer Barazite is a name few Gunners will recall, but his early career was spent at the Emirates hoping to emerge as one of the brightest talents in the European game.
Having begun his journey through football with the Gunners, Barazite should have been set on course for an illustrious career. He joined from NEC Nijmegen as a 16-year-old and quickly established himself in the Under 18 setup. He appeared for the Netherlands at U17 level, U18, U20 and even up to U21, scoring 12 goals in that time. His emergence as a key first-team player seemed only a matter of time, but he only made two League Cup appearances for the Gunners. Disaster struck in the second, a quarter final against Blackburn; he was stretchered off injured and was not seen in an Arsenal shirt again.
How then, does a promising player with such an illustrious youth career find himself plying his trade with Buriram United in Thailand as he turns 30? He was once a natural successor to Robin Van Persie but has struggled to find consistent form anywhere other than with Buriram.
Barazite’s decline did not start at Arsenal; like many of the exciting young prospects at top clubs, he was simply forced to look elsewhere for action. He spent time on loan at Derby County, then with Vitesse Arnhem, before making a permanent move away from the Emirates. He joined Austria Wien where he bagged 12 goals during their Austrian Bundesliga title win, making him one of the hottest prospects in European football once again.
French giants AS Monaco swooped, picking up the then Dutch U21 star. He once again looked set to follow Robin Van Persie’s footsteps into the international side, but despite helping Monaco to a Ligue 2 title, he found himself frozen out by Claudio Ranieri, with whom he fell out spectacularly. He then picked up an injury and by the time he returned, Monaco were on top in French football and his route to the first team was blocked by the likes of Falcao.
From there, Barazite began a steady decline in which he sought good contracts over progression. He spent three happy if unspectacular years at FC Utrecht before being linked with a switch to Glasgow Rangers. Instead, he picked up a lucrative contract with Al Jazira Club in Dubai. When that contract ended, he wound up at Thailand where the Bangkok Post reveals he replaced Brazilian striker Pedro. He now plays out his days, waiting for enough money to retire and return to his family in Dubai.
Thailand might not seem an obvious destination for a player still only 30, but the domestic league is attractive and can also be quite lucrative for players. In Expatbets’ guide to Thailand it reveals that sports betting is heavily regulated, but that has not had an impact on their domestic football league, which is still hugely popular with supporters. In fact, football is second only to Muay Thai as the country’s national sport and Barazite has found that popularity calming in his later career. The move has also allowed him to plan for life outside of the game that has provided his living for the last decade-and-a-half.
“I have multiple investments in real estate in the Netherlands and Dubai. I made my first investment when I was eighteen when I bought a house for my parents in the town of Huissen,” he said in a recent interview with a Dutch-language site.
“I am alone here in Thailand and haven’t seen them (family) in over four months. As soon as I finish playing football, we want to start living our life in Dubai. In recent years I have been going through a bit so that they have stability forever.”
Whilst Nacer Barazite won’t go down as a success story in terms of world football, the promising youngster has now matured into a level-headed man who is putting the future of his family ahead of any notion of one last stab at playing on the big stage.
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