An Open Letter to Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel of Chelsea (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Thomas Tuchel of Chelsea (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /
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Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (L) celebrates with Chelsea’s Moroccan midfielder Hakim Ziyech (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

You said you selected based on merit, but at several points last season you made many fans question that claim. This message of meritocracy was most confusing when it came to Hakim Ziyech. Admittedly, you reserve the right to select and bench whoever you think you need to in order to help the team on any given day. However, it seemed obvious that Ziyech was often playing well when he featured. When he initially disappeared from the starting lineup in the final third of the season no one batted an eye-lid as many thought it was due to injury, but then he started appearing on the bench and after a while you declared everyone fit, and yet still no Ziyech.

It soon became clear he was being left out of the lineup deliberately. This was confusing for many; fans and almost certainly the player himself. Allegations had been levied by fans against the Moroccan that he needed to work on his game and improve in order to get back into the lineup. He did. This is considering that he has always been hardworking on and off the ball. Nonetheless, Ziyech upped his game and put in more work on and off the ball.

Ziyech was so impactful for Chelsea that he ranked second for total big chances created (9) despite playing 1,048 minutes less than the player leading the chart. Ziyech led the team by far in big chances created per game (0.39) and big chances created per 90 (0.62). In fact, Ziyech ranked in the 99th percentile of all players in the Premier League last season for big chances created per 90 amongst players who played up to 19 games. Ziyech also ranked in the 95th percentile in key passes per 90 (2.12) amongst players who played up to 19 games.