WHO: Hakim Ziyech
FROM WHERE: AFC Ajax
TO WHERE: Chelsea
FOR HOW MUCH: €44 million
GRADE FOR CHELSEA: A
GRADE FOR AJAX: B-
After opting not to sign anybody in winter, Chelsea have made a big coup weeks after it closed by roping in Hakim Ziyech from Ajax. The 27-year-old will join next season but guarantees to fill that creative void which has cost them on occasions this season.
Frank Lampard’s side is adding plenty of firepower to their frontline. Ziyech has a wondrous style capable of keeping everybody in awe. Is he Eden Hazard’s direct replacement? Probably not, but he’ll definitely use his swagger to light up Stamford Bridge once again.
WHO IS HE?
Ziyech is a Moroccan international who’s been playing for Ajax since 2016. He’s scored 48 goals & assisted 82 times in 160 appearances for them, also winning the Ajax Player of the Season award multiple times.
He’s also played for Dutch clubs FC Twente & SC Heerenveen. He’s also made 32 appearances for Morocco, scoring 14 times & winning the Moroccan player of the year award in 2016.
IS THE PRICE FAIR?
Considering they’ve only paid a bit more than his expired €30m release clause, signing him for about €40 million really isn’t that bad. Ziyech is a proven talent with enough experience to galvanize their frontline.
With the kind of quality attacking players Chelsea possess, he should work his wonders & justify his price in the long-run.
WHAT IMPACT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
Ever since Hazard left Stamford Bridge, there’s almost like a hollow void created at Chelsea. They’re missing his bright spark running the show, but maybe now they’ll have somebody to reignite the defused flame.
Ziyech has earned quite the reputation for being an absolute menace for Ajax, skitting all over to bamboozle defenders with his trickery. His statistics definitely back up his heroics, as this season itself, he’s scored 6 & assisted 12 goals in 18 league appearances!
Similarly, in the Champions League, he scored 2 & assisted 4 in just 6 games. One, in particular, saw him rip apart Chelsea with a stunning performance. He made Kepa Arizzabalaga look like a fool, toyed at will with their defenders and exposed their vulnerabilities with his exquisite delivery. It was that bamboozling performance which perhaps convinced Lampard to sign him up.
Of course for the Moroccan, this will be a big step forward. The Premier League isn’t as gifting as the Eredivise. To replicate his insane numbers in England will really take some doing. But considering how he’s retained his brilliance against the very best in Europe, the Blues shouldn’t be worried about him adapting to a new environment.
Moreover, he’ll have plenty of support to make things easier. Tammy Abraham allegedly “liked” a social media post announcing Ziyech’s impending arrival. He’ll be delighted at getting such a creative player to help amp up his own goal-scoring numbers.
Ziyech has averaged 3.7 key passes & 4.7 shots per 90 minutes (stats via WhoScored) this season, proving how much of a live wire he is. Rather than pouncing on opportunities, he leads from the front in demanding the ball & creating magic with it. As a result, the Blues will gain a leader to lead the charge.
Not only Abraham, but the likes of Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount & Callum Hudson-Odoi should also benefit from this. The Moroccan is an extremely clever individual who can track the off-the-ball movement of his team-mates & put in perfectly timed incisive passes to send them through on goal.
With Lampard encouraging his players to be more expressive, Ziyech shouldn’t take time before he gets the best out of those around. Pulisic can look towards scoring more often, while some of the creative pressures will be taken off Mount.
That being said, Ziyech is also a very hot n cold’ kinda player. He can be lethal on occasions but very frustrating on others when things don’t go his way. His high risk-high reward kind of mentality can cause problems when things don’t go his way.
Then again, his statistics prove how clinical he normally is with his final delivery. The best thing is he repeatedly keeps on trying & never loses self-belief. He isn’t daunted under pressure, instead thriving under the heat to flourish on the biggest occasions. Chelsea needed an “X-factor” to make opponents fear them again and have received the perfect ingredient to ensure that next season.
Chelsea (A) – This makes up for Chelsea’s inactivity in January. They’ve signed an absolute game-changer. Ziyech could take time adapting to the Premier League, but once he does, his fireworks can burn any side. He’ll also help them pack a stronger punch in Europe & once he gets well-synched with his new team-mates, the Moroccan should create & score many goals next season.
Ajax (B-) – So the deal with Ajax is they always have a back-up policy for any superstar leaving. They’ll either buy his suitable replacement or promote someone from within. But Ziyech’s departure will dampen their chances of progressing higher in the Champions League. He was a big one for the European nights and they’ll definitely miss his cunning presence during the big games.