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22. Hakim Ziyech


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It's early days but the biggest compliment I can give to Ziyech based on these first two games, the vibe feels like he will have a similar influence on our attack like Robben did in Mourinho's first season. Jose had got us defensively solid and organised but the attack was spluttering a little in the first few games. When Robben came in it just made everything suddenly click and you just feel Ziyech's introduction is having a similar impact, albeit completely different style of players.

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That is utter madness. He would cost £80m if he played for a PL club.

If you have the BT app tune into "Ziyech:Wizard of AMS". Gives you a great insight into the man aswell as the player. He goes over his personal feelings when Nouri collapsed (he was right next to him

Ziyech has been one of the better players for the last decade in the Eredivisie. He had an outstanding Champions League campaign last year with Ajax. Journalists here question if he has the quality to

On 31/10/2020 at 4:54 PM, killer1257 said:

It is funny because most of TC did not even rate him lol

Gesendet von meinem VOG-L29 mit Tapatalk
 

Like @Jason has said there is an awful lot of players that built big reputations in Holland and were huge flops when they moved to stronger leagues. We saw that ourselves with Kezman.

I do think the last couple of years staying at Ajax will actually benefit Ziyech. There seems to be a real maturity to his game.

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Since someone brought up the subject as to why no one signed Ziyech before us etc, thought it might be worth to share this article from February again...

Chelsea scouted Ziyech for three years, analysed what others feared and signed a ‘world-class’ player whose life was turned around by a ‘beautiful’ moment

https://theathletic.com/1606311/2020/02/14/hakim-ziyech-chelsea-transfer/

Hakim Ziyech is the first expensive new face to be added to Chelsea’s squad in more than a year and Frank Lampard won’t actually welcome him until July 1 — but everyone at the club is confident that the man Ajax dubbed “The Wizard of Amsterdam” will prove well worth the wait.

This was a deal long in the making and one illustrative of Chelsea’s broader approach to transfers. Sources have told The Athletic that the framework of an agreement to bring Ziyech to Stamford Bridge was established with Ajax before Christmas but the Dutch club were unwilling to jeopardise their chances of winning the Eredivisie and Europa League by selling their best player in January.

So Chelsea bided their time, resisting external pressure to pursue short-term fixes for Lampard’s squad in the winter market in favour of prioritising their long-term targets. The transfer deadline came and went without any movement, talks with Ajax resumed this week and both clubs were swiftly in a position to announce a deal worth an initial €40 million (about £33 million), potentially rising to €44 million.

It is understood Chelsea have scouted Ziyech extensively for three years, and might have made their move last summer were it not for their FIFA-imposed transfer ban.

Ziyech was available for €30 million at the time — a release clause that was removed when he signed a new contract in August 2019, which consisted of a pay rise rather than an extension. Other clubs were interested in acquiring him at that price, but the only serious approach last summer came from Sevilla, and Ziyech did not consider the move a significant step up from Ajax.

Many of Europe’s elite clubs also took a look, but none were totally convinced. Some scouting reports and statistical analysis raised doubts about Ziyech’s occasional tendency to take bad shots from long distance or give the ball away in bad areas. The number of wayward passes that went hand-in-hand with every eye-catching assist divided opinion.

More generally, Ziyech’s lean physique led some to question whether he has the required physicality to stand up to a more intense league. There were also concerns about his spikier personality traits, in addition to all the usual fears about whether Eredivisie production translates to a higher level.

But the closer Chelsea looked at Ziyech, the more they liked him – not just his game and the way it was felt his skill set would complement what Lampard already had, but also his relationships with Ajax team-mates and staff. They were impressed with his ability to adapt to different tactical systems — playing as a No 8, a No 10 or winger, as Michael Cox explains here — and absorb complex instructions from his coaches.

Just as crucially, they concluded that the perception of him as a troublesome character was unfair, and they are very confident that he will be a difference-maker in the Premier League.

Ziyech’s consistently stellar performances in the Champions League over the past 18 months spoke heavily in his favour, and a virtuoso display in Ajax’s 4-4 thriller with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in November — featuring two assists and a free-kick that beat Kepa Arrizabalaga from an almost impossible angle — backed up the assessment that he would be a smart addition to Lampard’s squad.

There were a number of senior scouts from elite European clubs at Stamford Bridge to watch the game, and one was moved to put Ziyech in the “world-class” category of his club’s system as a result of what he saw. The Moroccan’s combination of technical quality — identifying attacking possibilities missed by everyone else on the pitch, then realising them — and relentless work rate, was dazzling.

Chelsea’s efficiency in finalising this transfer so far ahead of the summer has been greeted with surprise in Europe, where English clubs are widely regarded as reactive and poor planners.

Ziyech will arrive in England with the dual status of Ajax’s talisman and the best player in the Eredivisie, much like Luis Suarez and Christen Eriksen did before him. But the path that Ziyech has walked to get to this point has been considerably longer and more arduous.

Ziyech was only 14 years old when his mother and brother Faouzi sat him down for the conversation that would change his life.

The youngest member of a large family, which also consists of four older brothers and three sisters, risked throwing his talented football career away before it had even really begun. Two male siblings had previously suffered that fate after being imprisoned for burglary.

“My mother noticed I wasn’t at home often,” he explained during an interview broadcast in the Netherlands in 2016. “I was outside with friends and I was coming home late. Of course, mums are always concerned. She felt that something wasn’t right. Mothers can sense things.

“At that very moment they asked me, ‘What do you want (in life)? Are you going to go left or are you going right? Eventually they convinced me to choose the right way, to make the right choice.

“They didn’t want it (what happened to his two brothers) to happen to me — they invested a lot in me. if I think back to it now, it’s beautiful.”

Ziyech’s personal problems — he was already drinking and smoking — stemmed from struggling with the death of his father from multiple sclerosis four years earlier.

Football seemed like a perfect outlet to cope with the grief. Having been spotted by scouts while playing for his local side ASV Dronten, Heerenveen offered the young playmaker a spot in their academy and even arranged a foster family to look after him while he was away from home.

But nothing could help him get over losing his dad. It didn’t help that, due to financial reasons, Ziyech couldn’t attend the funeral in Morocco. He had to wait four years before he had the opportunity to visit the grave with his mother.

“My father’s death had quite an impact on me — not just after it happened, but when I became a bit older,” he added. “I started to realise what happened and that I would never see my father again. That is really hard for a young guy who hasn’t experienced a lot in the world. If you lose your dad at such a young age, it’s really painful.

“My mother was able to take me (to his grave) at 14 and at that moment you start to realise he’s lying there and will always remain there. I remember my mother saying to me then: ‘go for it 100 per cent because he is watching and do it for him’. And at that moment I really thought: ‘I’m going to do it’.”

That is not to say Chelsea’s new recruit has had a smooth and stress-free ride to the Premier League ever since — far from it. He may be softly spoken, but Ziyech has never been an individual afraid to express what he’s thinking.

Despite conceding his behaviour hadn’t been the best, Ziyech wasn’t pleased that he had to wait longer than others to be given a professional contract at Heerenveen.

He dropped out of school at the age of 16, but just when his mother’s and brother’s advice threatened to be ignored, a father-figure emerged in Aziz Doufikar — the first Moroccan player to play in the Netherlands — to act as a mentor.

Heerenveen rewarded his fine form at youth level with a debut at 19, but he went on to have only one full season as a first-team player before demanding a move elsewhere.

The legendary ex-striker Marco van Basten was his coach, but their relationship was fractious. Ziyech felt he could have been in the first team sooner, but that there wasn’t enough communication and promises were broken.

FC Twente won his signature in 2014 ahead of Feyenoord, who paid the price for saying he would play anywhere in their team but the No 10 position he craved. At first, the signs were good: there were 15 goals in the first campaign and he was made club captain for the following season.

Then problems struck again. Much to his chagrin, FC Twente sacked inspirational manager Alfred Schreuder, the man who had persuaded him to join in the first place.

The club were also beset with financial problems and Ziyech vented his frustrations publicly about how things were being run, making it clear he wanted to leave. He was stripped of the captaincy for his public criticism, though the club managed to convince him to see the season out.

Did it negatively affect his form? A return of 17 goals and 10 assists says otherwise, and that was when he secured his big move to Ajax for an initial £10 million.

Chelsea supporters concerned at what kind of character is being introduced into the Stamford Bridge dressing room need not be alarmed. Ziyech has matured over the years too. Indeed he now heads up a programme in Dronten to help young kids.

That included bussing them to his final home game for FC Twente and talking with them afterwards in the hope of inspiring them to make better lives for themselves.

Ajax were a bit worried when in 2018, they handed new acquisition Dusan Tadic the No 10 shirt which had belonged to Ziyech. But there were more signs of a growing character.

Schreuder, who had been reunited with the player after being employed as Ajax’s assistant manager, said: “Hakim solved that excellently. Especially as the way it went was bothering him. But outwardly he has had no problem at all.

“He also did not blame Dusan. Together they have solved it very nicely. That marks the development that Ziyech has gone through.”

Not that everyone in the country was convinced he had turned over a new leaf. There was some long-lasting bitterness from Ziyech’s decision to represent Morocco at international level in 2015 rather than the Netherlands.

He had played for the Netherlands at under-19, under-20 and under-21 level and been called up for senior squad to face USA and Latvia earlier in the year, only to withdraw through injury.

But speaking in an interview with de Volkskrant, Ziyech claimed: “The better I was going to play, the less I was looked at. I didn’t get a call (from Netherlands) until I said I was going for Morocco.

“The Moroccan union had been working with me for years. I was born here (Holland), but my roots are there, my father is buried there.

“It’s great how people react to you there. Everybody wants to help you, you’re really appreciated there. In the Netherlands, people are always looking for something negative.”

Some might wonder whether he’s in for similar unfavourable treatment in England, given the high-profile nature of the Premier League, where every move is scrutinised. Yet when you’re blessed with a talent as spectacular as Ziyech’s, which will clearly be welcomed with open arms by everyone at Stamford Bridge, this could be the ideal marriage.

So how should a coach — Frank Lampard, take note — manage him? In the words of the player himself: “Hard, rock hard, with a little fun in between. With a lot of communication, but also with the message that you are ultimately responsible for your own career.

“My brother thinks I’m too honest. Many Moroccan boys are afraid to come across arrogantly. I say what I think. That’s why I’m tricky for some trainers. Still, you often see the troublesome guys making it. They have spirit, character, they want to be the best, draw motivation from criticism.”

Ziyech will be 27 by the time he plays his first Premier League match. He is older than many Eredivisie stars who leave to test themselves on a grander stage, and also older than most of the players targeted by Chelsea since 2012. A significant part of Marina Granovskaia’s job as chief negotiator is to balance signings with sales, and younger targets offer greater resale value.

But at €44 million, Ziyech is more reasonably priced than many of the alternatives Chelsea have looked at — not least Wilfried Zaha, who was saddled with an £80 million price tag by Crystal Palace in January. Jadon Sancho would require an even greater outlay, but it is believed that this deal does not necessarily rule out a move for the most coveted teenager in world football.

Wing reinforcements could be required beyond Ziyech this summer. Pedro will leave when his contract expires in June, and Willian could well follow if no agreement is reached over an extension to his deal. Chelsea have an option to buy Jeremie Boga back from Sassuolo, and the academy graduate presents a cost-effective alternative to any Sancho deal.

Chelsea also have other needs to address in the summer transfer market: another striker to compete with Tammy Abraham, an upgrade at left-back, a high-level centre-back if one is available and even perhaps a goalkeeper to replace Kepa, should the Spain international fail to show signs of recovering from his alarming slump in form between now and the end of the season.

But regardless of who follows him to Stamford Bridge in the coming months, Chelsea’s plan is for Ziyech to be a key element of the team Lampard is building. His age is regarded as a positive; with Pedro and potentially Willian leaving at the end of the season, such proven quality provides welcome balance to a squad now centred around youth, much of it home-grown.

Confidence is high at Ajax that he will prove up to the task. “He can make the difference with his vision and the way he plays,” former Netherlands international John Heitinga, who now coaches the club’s U19 team, tells The Athletic. “When he has got the ball, something is happening.

“The goals that Quincy Promes is scoring… because of him (Ziyech), people are moving. He is 26 and already has some experience here in the Dutch league. He is going to be top for the Premier League.

“He’s a nice guy, works hard and loves the game. He’s a different player to when he came here from FC Twente because now he is also doing things without the ball. In the beginning, it was just when he had the ball. Now he is doing both.”

Chelsea’s first signing of 2020 is an exciting one. A player of rare gifts will soon be at Lampard’s disposal, and watching “The Wizard of Amsterdam” attempt to weave his magic in west London next season is likely to be compulsory viewing.

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The aura, the class, the arrogance flying around Ziyech. This guy is something else. I just love everything about him, even his facial expressions (remember his free kick at the Bridge back in his Ajax days?). He knows exactly what he is bringing to the game.

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I know Havertz is starting to look really good, but it is interesting, I was having a chat with friends and I said despite more hype around Havertz, I reckon Ziyech will adjust quicker and I said people are not going to know what hit them and early days but he looks sensational. His left food is something else. He will be challenging KDB for assists I reckon. Really and truly the best assist of the match which will never be, beause Werner hit it wide was the lofted pass that Ziyech did for him. That deserved a goal and another assist for Ziyech. Top player. £32m or £33m, around there. Call that bargain of the season.

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1 minute ago, Stats said:

I know Havertz is starting to look really good, but it is interesting, I was having a chat with friends and I said despite more hype around Havertz, I reckon Ziyech will adjust quicker

TBF, Ziyech has the "benefit" of being in his best years while Havertz is still in that developing age. 

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Like the fact that Ziyech kept playing the passes that he did today, even when he got them wrong on some occasions. Did not let those moments deter him.

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1 minute ago, Jason said:

TBF, Ziyech has the "benefit" of being in his best years while Havertz is still in that developing age. 

Yep, part of reason why I thought Ziyech would adjust quicker. I think he went underappreciated tbh. I have seen him for Ajax against top teams and thought wow.  Eredivisie or not but topping assists charts for 4 seasons is magnificent. 

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15 hours ago, Alabama said:

To think we have Willian all this years on the flank...

I was always a fan of Willian despite his lack of goals/assists, however what frustrated me was that after that 1 game he had against Fulham (worst team in the league at the time) where he made 2 assists, all pundits were stating what were we thinking letting him go. Since that he has not produced 1 goal or 1 assist and his performances have been absolute shit. I think pundits are forgetting that if we kept him, we would have had to offer him a three year deal. Actually Souness and others were saying we should have. I don't know what planet they are on but giving a 32 year old a three year contract where he would of wanted huge wages, is just not feasible. Who is he getting ahead of? Pulisic, Havertz, Ziyech? None of them. I would love to see their angle on this now.

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7 minutes ago, Stats said:

I was always a fan of Willian despite his lack of goals/assists, however what frustrated me was that after that 1 game he had against Fulham (worst team in the league at the time) where he made 1 assists, all pundits were stating what were we thinking letting him go. Since that he has not produced 1 goal or 1 assist and his performances have been absolute shit. I think pundits are forgetting that if we kept him, we would have had to offer him a three year deal. Actually Souness and others were saying we should have. I don't know what planet they are on but giving a 32 year old a three year contract where he would of wanted huge wages, is just not feasible. Who is he getting ahead of? Pulisic, Havertz, Ziyech? None of them. I would love to see their angle on this now.

Though am  not a fan of Willian but to me he is good player meant for club like Southampton or Everton you cant be competing for titles with Willian on your flank....his lack of end products frustrates the shit out of me...

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7 hours ago, Stats said:

I was always a fan of Willian despite his lack of goals/assists, however what frustrated me was that after that 1 game he had against Fulham (worst team in the league at the time) where he made 1 assists, all pundits were stating what were we thinking letting him go. Since that he has not produced 1 goal or 1 assist and his performances have been absolute shit. I think pundits are forgetting that if we kept him, we would have had to offer him a three year deal. Actually Souness and others were saying we should have. I don't know what planet they are on but giving a 32 year old a three year contract where he would of wanted huge wages, is just not feasible. Who is he getting ahead of? Pulisic, Havertz, Ziyech? None of them. I would love to see their angle on this now.

The behaviour from Arsenal fans was truly bizzare, they acted like they took prime Hazard off us and DT even implied both Willian and Luiz forced their way out of here to them like it was a German club to Bayern situation :drunk:

It's the equivalent of us in the early 00's getting Kanu (when he was winding down) on a free while Arsenal got Samuel Eto'o, imagine gloating about that :lol:

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