Who could forget that enthralling Champions League encounter between Chelsea and a 9-men Ajax at Stamford Bridge in November 2019? The Blues came back from 3 goals down to draw against the toast of last season’s Champions League to secure the top spot at Group H. In that pulse-racing and memorable match, the Chelsea think-tank kept a close eye on the Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech, whose impact on the match impressed each and every one. The officials of the Blues planned to sign this talent.
— Jim White (@JimWhite) February 13, 2020
A few months later, Chelsea reached an agreement with Ajax to sign Ziyech this summer. The move is subject to the player agreeing on personal terms and he will remain at the Dutch club for the rest of this season. were prohibited from making any signings by Fifa last summer. That sanction was lifted in January and they remained silent during the winter transfer, but in the end, they gave their supporters a pleasant surprise. Ziyech is to become the first signing of Chelsea’s new manager Frank Lampard.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 13, 2020
Ziyech should be an inspirational signing for the Blues, who at present are going through a transitional phase. The 26-year old has the control over the ball, possesses a great ability script impactful passes by breaking down the defence and while operating from the right as a winger, he has been a devastating force.
Ziyech, born in Dronten, Holland, started his senior career at Eredivisie side Heerenveen having come through their academy. He made his debut in a big Europa League qualifying round win in August 2012, and later that month featured in the league for the first time.
Most expensive sales Ajax have received in their history:
🇳🇱 Matthijs de Ligt
🇳🇱 Frenkie de Jong
🇨🇴 Davinson Sanchez
🇲🇦 Hakim Ziyech
🇵🇱 Arkadiusz Milik
Signed for: €19.8m
Sold for: €264m pic.twitter.com/CwwQio00N9
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) February 13, 2020
In the season 2013-14, Ziyech netted 9 goals and provided 9 assists in 33 Eredivisie appearances. It earned him a move to Twente, where his form remained satisfactory as usual. He scored 11 goals and recorded 16 assists in his first season there, and then in 2015/16 struck 17 times at a rate better than a goal every other game.
Ajax signed him in 2016 and since he joined there, Ziyech has been involved in 89 goals in the Dutch Eredivisie, which includes 38 goals and 51 assists – a league-high! In last season’s Champions League, Ziyech created 24 chances across 11 appearances, 3 fewer than Lionel Messi and 10 more than Mohamed Salah. The semi-final encounter against Tottenham Hotspur was a heartbreak, but that Ajax team and Ziyech would create a long-lasting effect in the memories of football followers.
138 days of magic left.
Let’s enjoy every single touch… ✨
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) February 13, 2020
Many of the talents of that young and energetic Ajax team have left for the big clubs in Europe and Ziyech’s move was just a matter of time. From next season Stamford Bridge would be his new home.
Now, whether Ziyech would be able to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the Blues remains a moot question.
In the Dutch league, Ajax have a very few tough opponents and defenders to deal with. Moreover, the pace of the Dutch League is not as fast as the Premier League. In the Premier League Ziyech has to deal with some ragged defenders and keep up with the high-tempo and demands of the fans, critics, and officials. Premier League is a tough place to be in and many talented customers have lost their way while failing to cope up with the pace and demands.
But the kind of talent and skill Ziyech possesses and the way he fared in the Champions League, one can expect him to gel well in Premier League. He might lack the ability to defend, which is required in the Premier League, but learning that skill would not be a tough task for such a hard-working player.
Lampard can use him as a winger or as a wide forward or behind the striker, but his role should be more as a wide forward and that is where he clicks better. On the flanks he is similar to Arjen Robben – apart from providing killer-crosses, he is well-equipped to cut inside and score goals and right now Chelsea would need a prolific scorer other than Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic.
The attacking line-up of Chelsea would look quite impressive and inspiring when Ziyech would start in the first XI, but in the meantime, the Blues need to take care of the back because you need solid defence for the players up front to attack freely.