Chelsea must not let a slow start due to injury consign Hakim Ziyech to being the next Juan Cuadrado, sent off on loan or sold and lost to the team completely. Cuadrado was signed in February 2015 for $34.19 million, was sent out on loan to Juventus that August until July of 2017, when he was sold to Juventus for $22M. Cuadrado was a slight player as Ziyech is. He was a winger whose game was based mostly on pace.
The Blues evidently felt almost immediately that he wasn’t going to cut the mustard at Stamford Bridge or in the Premier League—he never really received a decent chance at all.
He cut more than mustard in Turin though, as he has been part of a few Serie A champion sides. At 32, he’s still playing for the Bianconeri. Now, we have rumors arising that Ziyech may be unhappy at Chelsea (due to playing time, who wouldn’t be?) and may want out in the summer. This is bad news for the Blues and calls to mind the Cuadrado situation clearly because, like him, Ziyech is rather slight of build. That’s where the similarity ends though. They are completely different players and at completely different levels in their football abilities. Cuadrado was maybe not up to the toughness standards of the Premier League, but after his brief rollout, how would the club even know that? The move was made too soon, it’s no secret.
Now the talk is rattling around in the media that the Moroccan Magician is not happy at Chelsea and that he may want out this summer. Hopefully, that is just media-speak and a little nudge to Thomas Tuchel to give this amazing player the pitch time he needs to showcase the amazing skills that brought him to west London by Frank Lampard. Ziyech’s short time at Chelsea has, of course, been marred by injury from the very outset. Injury after injury; it’s a shame, really. The crosses he can deliver with his golden left boot will be a sight to behold if anyone, can actually get on the end of a few of them. To-date, even when he has played, no one seems capable of getting that done. That’s where Tuchel comes in though.
The lack of finishers is what is keeping the Blues’ from the upper echelons of the table, not the lack of talent. The talent is there and it’s Tuchel’s responsibility to bring out the best in his players. Trying to fit players into a system (especially players brought into the club to play in another system) is ultimately doomed to failure.
Here’s the prescription for Tuchel in the case of the Moroccan Magician: don’t entertain any idea of letting this supremely talented player leave the Blues. Allow him first to get fully fit and then turn him loose on the right side to utilize his brilliant left foot to the greatest effectiveness. Let him play. He may be on the slight side physically, but he is tough and will make the grade and then some for Chelsea. Give him the keys to the right side of the attack and he’ll get the job done—that’s if you find the right combination of accompanying players and the right system to unlock the strengths of all of your misfiring forwards.
Ziyech would be part of a process to change all of the offensive deficiencies currently present. If given the leeway, he will help unlock scorers if given the chance. Play this superb player and the rest will fall into place. Letting him go will be Cuadrado (and Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku) all over again. It will be a waste of talent and a shame for the Blues.