When Frank Lampard’s Chelsea were told before the January window that their transfer ban had been cut-short and that they would be able to do business in the winter, there was a visible change in the mood around Stamford Bridge. When push came to shove though, the Blues’ recruitment staff seemed to bottle it completely. Although many faithful supporters questioned the club’s decisions, Lampard continued to back the team and responded by saying, “I don’t want to make some kneejerk reaction to say: ‘Here’s my first big signing’ because we couldn’t sign anyone in the summer. No, I want to do the right thing for the club.”
Despite the massive expectations of the Blues’ supporters who had already gone an entire window without the ability to make a single transfer, the London club didn’t make any for a second one. The reaction from the fan-base was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Still, within a fortnight of the window slamming shut, Director Marina Granovskaia pulled off an absolute blinder of a deal – the £33.3m acquisition of Ajax attacker Hakim Ziyech.
How Did Ziyech First Burst Onto The Scene?
Moroccan international winger Hakim Ziyech has been one of the most talked about players in Europe over the last couple of years, and with good reason. The 27-year-old began his professional career with the Heerenveen youth side, before eventually making his way into the first-team setup in the summer of 2012. A couple of years in the starting lineup were enough for FC Twente to make a move for him, which was followed by his career-defining transfer to Ajax a further two years later.
What Makes Ziyech Stand Out From The Rest?
For starters, Ziyech is an unbelievable presence to have in attack, owing largely to the fact that there’s not too much that he doesn’t do well. The Moroccan has provided ten or more assists in the Eredivisie in each of his last six league campaigns, while the fact that he tends to average almost 0.7 assists per game is commendable as well. The Chelsea man’s Champions League run with Ajax last season was quite impressive too, as he finished the campaign with seven assists to his name – one more than what Argentine superstar Lionel Messi managed.
Despite not being the quickest on the ball, the trickster tends to take teams apart with his dribbling and technical ability, which is exactly what is displayed in his unreal assist figures. His 21 fixtures in the Eredivisie this term have yielded a strong return of 6 goals and 13 assists, and no player has provided more assists than Ziyech since he first joined the Dutch champions back in the summer of 2016.
What Are The Moroccan Winger’s Main Attributes?
Ziyech is arguably the best dribbler in the world, but it’s safe to say that that’s far from being his only strength. The Moroccan is an excellent ball-carrier, and his ability to get past defenders is second to none. Few players in the continent are as technically gifted as the Ajax man, as he tends to create goalscoring opportunities out of thin air in the final third.
While he does lack a little in defensive work-rate, which is sure to be a challenge in the Premier League, his attacking involvements will surely come as a considerable boost to Lampard’s aspirations for next season. Ziyech also boasts a stellar shot from a distance, and there’s next to no angle on the pitch that the Moroccan can’t hit the target from. The goal he scored against Chelsea in the Champions League, which came off Kepa Arrizabalaga’s face, is the perfect example of what the player is capable of.
What Should The Chelsea Fans Be Hoping To See From Ziyech?
The Blues’ squad had been devoid of imagination and creativity in the middle of the park for certain periods in the season, and the addition of a player of Ziyech’s quality will surely come as an instant fix. The Moroccan can be expected to hit the ground running at Stamford Bridge as he is mostly a no-nonsense player who loves the game. West London fans will be hoping to see the same Ziyech that’s been destroying teams at Ajax for the last few years. If he’s able to replicate even 50 percent of that form in West London, then the 2020/21 league campaign could end up being a memorable one for Chelsea.