This discussion has been held off to allow the rest of Chelsea’s season to pass. Also, after the recent losses, it’s quite easy to have bias and not look at both sides of the story.
What I am referring to is “Moroccan Wizard” himself, Hakim Ziyech, and why his tenure at Chelsea has been turbulent to say the least and if his future is at Chelsea or not. We’ve seen moments of brilliance from Ziyech this season, but not anywhere close to the level he displayed at Ajax for several seasons. You can attribute that to many factors both in and out of Ziyech’s hands and providing the backstory of his Chelsea career so far may bring more light to how it hasn’t panned out yet.
To start in 2020 January transfer window, Chelsea’s transfer ban was lifted but they didn’t do any business to the surprise of many. On 14 February the club announced they agreed a 44 million euros fee with Ajax to bring Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea next season and shortly after he signed a five year contract. We all know what happened next. The world completely shut down in March due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that brought uncertainty to everything life not only football.
Several leagues throughout Europe were scrapped including the Eredivisie which meant that Ziyech when he arrived at Chelsea in July hadn’t played competitive football for more than four months. Lack of fitness and match sharpness caused him to pick up an injury in a preseason against Brighton which ruled him out until October.
When he made his first appearance, he looked fantastic and carried that form for a couple more weeks afterwards, but just like the Blue’s season went into a downward spiral come December, so did Ziyech’s form. Frank Lampard was sacked and Thomas Tuchel arrived and with that a new formation and no consistent spot for Ziyech, we haven’t seen the best of him yet.
I can make the argument that he played his best football under Lampard because he played in his favorite position on the right side. Under Tuchel, he is asked to come deep and continuously switch sides which isn’t his game. He lacks the physical attributes to deal with the pressure and strength that is in the English game, his quality can get him out of those situations but even then they are several games where he goes missing and his subbed off.
I made all the cases as for why it hasn’t worked out but Ziyech must take some responsibility as well. When given a chance, he is hit or miss. He can score a goal in a semifinal one week, then the next week be subbed of at 60 minutes with him looking unbothered. In recent times, talent coming to Premier League from the Eredivisie like Memphis Depay, Vincent Janssen and Alireza Jahanbakhsh haven’t worked out for whatever reason. But there was also Luis Suarez, Georginio Wijnaldum and Christian Eriksen who did amazing in the Premier League. So what I am trying to say it is down to the individual and if he is willing to adapt in order to flourish or not, Hakim Ziyech is currently 28 and reaching the prime of his career but will he reach his potential at Chelsea?
So where do we go from here? There are several unknowns still as we try to navigate to more of a “normal” Premier League season. We must know whether Tuchel change his formation next season to better suit wingers? Is Ziyech a part of his plans to be a consistent member of squad? What are Ziyech’s ambitions? Are they to start every game or just be an impact sub player?
If a bid comes in for him that is good, then selling might be the best option. The existing attacking talent is already deep and with the possibility of other recruitments, I don’t see where he fits. It may be harsh, but it is the reality of the situation.
But I am not the one who makes the decisions and I am not opposed to him staying and having a full preseason to see how he gets on. I have faith that he has the quality if he given the consistent chance in his right position to make a real impact for a side who will be challenging on multiple fronts.
The fact that Tammy Abraham, who has been isolated and has rarely featured under Tuchel, remains Chelsea’s top scorer tells the whole story this side lacks that quality in final third and Ziyech is not only to blame. The beautiful thing is that come 14 August, a new season arrives with a clean slate for many including Ziyech. If all things go right but regardless there is still work to be done this season and if Ziyech contributes to the cause of capturing the Champions League all will be forgotten and he will firmly be enshrined in the history of this club.
Let us know your thoughts on Hakim Ziyech’s season so far and if you believe he has a future at the club in the comments and on Twitter!