Who is Hakim Ziyech? The Ajax star joining Chelsea despite Tottenham and Arsenal legends begging them to sign him By Gadmin
Chelsea have completed their first signing of the Frank Lampard revolution with Ajax star Hakim Ziyech joining the club in the summer.
The Blues have beaten off competition from Manchester United and Arsenal to agree a £33million deal to sign the Moroccan star.
It comes after Stamford Bridge chiefs failed with a bid for the forward in January, and after the deal was all-but confirmed by Ajax manager Erik ten Hag who told Fox Sports: “Ziyech to Chelsea? A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen.”
Ziyech has become one of the best players in the Eredivise over the years after dazzling with Ajax.
The 26-year-old has scored 38 goals in 107 league appearances for the club and played an instrumental role in Ajax’s superb run to the Champions League semi-finals last term, where they were cruelly knocked out by a last minute Tottenham goal.
talkSPORT’s very own Tony Cascarino, a former Chelsea forward, believes the club are ‘lucky’ to have signed such a special talent.
“He’s just got everything in the game. I think he’s one hell of a talent and Chelsea would be very, very lucky to get him,” he told talkSPORT.
“He destroyed Real Madrid last year; he really played a big part in Ajax getting the better of Real at the Bernabeu. He’s a real talent who I think would be a fantastic addition to Chelsea.”
Name: Hakim Ziyech
Born: 18 March, 1993 (age 26)
Position: Right wing/No.10
Career highlight: Winning the double (Eredisie title and KNVB Cup) with Ajax in 2018/19
Ziyech grew up with his Moroccan parents in Dronten, Holland, and started his career playing for the academy of Reaal Dronten before he joined the Heerenveen academy.
On August 2, 2012, Ziyech made his Eredivisie debut for Heerenveen and he would go onto excel for the club, netting 11 goals in 36 appearances.
His stellar performances at such a young age earned him a move to Twente, where he was immediately handed the No.10 shirt upon his arrival at the club.
Ziyech wasted no time in making an impression, repaying the club with a hugely respectable return of 34 goals in 76 appearances.
It was these displays which convinced Ajax to snap up the winger for £9m in August 2016.
But it wasn’t until Erik ten Hag arrived at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in 2017 that Ziyech showed his true ability.
As part of a lethal trio with David Neres and Dusan Tadic, Ziyech struck 21 goals as Ajax clinched the Eredivisie title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.
His best display in the white and red of Ajax came at the Santiago Bernabeu when Ajax dumped the Champions League holders out of the competition with a stunning 4-1 win.
Ziyech opened the scoring and wreaked havoc for the Real defence to really put his name on the European stage.
Style of play
Ziyech is left footed and he is therefore strongest out on the right, where he often cuts in and shoots to devastating effect.
As seen by his superb free-kick against Chelsea earlier this season, he often crosses from the flanks which has given Ajax another outlet when the middle of the pitch is congested.
The Stamford Bridge crowd were given glimpse of what they can expect in the Champions League earlier this season when he curled an incredible cross to the far post to set up Quincy Promes’ goal as Ajax and Chelsea played out an incredible 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Ziyech’s goal record at all the clubs he has played for will also be very appealing to Lampard, who has repeatedly admitted he wants prolific players in his XI.
Where would he fit in?
Ziyech will also appeal to Lampard for his versatility as he can play in any of the forward positions behind the striker, however, he will most likely be deployed in his best position on the right flank.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has great potential but he has yet to prove he deserves a starting spot in the team and Ziyech would slot in on the right to provide competition for the youngster.
Willian is yet to sign a new deal at the club and Barcelona are reportedly waiting to snap him up in the summer, while Pedro’s stint in west London is also coming to an end.
Therefore, Lampard may even buy two wingers this summer – and it could be Jadon Sancho.
If Sancho is signed, he will most likely occupy his favoured spot on the right. Ziyech would therefore move into the No.10 role or provide competition for Christian Pulisic on the left.
Hakim Ziyech – 2019/20
Eredivise appearances – 18
Assists – 32
Shots per game – 4.7
Pass success – 78.5 per cent
Key passes per game – 3.7
Average passes per game – 55.4
Dribbles per game – 2.7
Tackles per game – 2.1
What have people said
Former Tottenham playmaker Rafael van der Vaart is a big fan of Ziyech and urged his former club to sign the forward last month.
He said: “I’ve said it already many times, I hope, I really hope that Tottenham can buy Hakim Ziyech from Ajax.
“He is a player that the squad need, they need creativity at the moment.
“He can score goals, he can give assists and I think for him it’s really important to make the next step.I think he would be the perfect player [for Tottenham].”
While Netherlands and Arsenal icon Marc Overmars was equally positive about the tricky winger, claiming he is better than Mezut Ozil.
“I believe Hakim Ziyech is better than Mesut Ozil,” said Overmars said in an interview with AD.
“I would advise Arsenal to sell Ozil and buy Ziyech for half of the money, but they didn’t listen to me.”
Back in 2018, Dutch football legend Willem van Hanegem, who finished as a runner up at 1974 World Cup and coached the likes of Feyenoord, AZ and Sparta Rotterdam in his post-playing career, admitted he though Ziyech was Ajax’s key player – despite many saying Dusan Tadic was the talisman.
He said: “The people in Amsterdam have their mouth full of Dusan Tadic, but I think Hakim Ziyech is by far the most important man at Ajax.
“If he can continue to put his class in the service of the team, he is really great.”