Eden Hazard’s departure left Chelsea without a player who could regularly provide that certain x-factor, a player who can with just one magical moment turn the course of the game. Hakim Ziyech, the first signing of Frank Lampard’s tenure as head coach of Chelsea, is expected to help fill that massive void next season.
The 26-year-old Ajax standout may be enjoying (to a certain extent) this extended and unscheduled break in football thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean he’s lacking any motivation for the future, for when things get back to normal. He’s been playing non-stop for the past three years and is now taking advantage of the time off to properly rest and recover and get ready for the biggest move of his career.
“Now, everything feels right, Chelsea is a very big and nice club. There are a lot of talented youngsters, which puts me in a position I’m used to after the last three-and-a-half years at Ajax. It suits me well.
“Chelsea has a coach who loves attacking and attractive football in Frank Lampard. I feel the same way. We had some good talks. Lampard is really calm and presented himself well. We immediately felt a connection, which also convinced me to make this decision.
“Therefore, now is the time to make a move. I’m ready, also as a person. It will be a new phase of my life to be further away from my family and friends in London. I don’t see it as a struggle, quite the opposite actually. I’m really looking forward to it. I will give it my utmost, and will learn so many new things that will make me grow even further.”
Ziyech, a Moroccan international born and raised in the Netherlands, has spent his entire career so far in the Eredivisie. While he has a fair bit of European experience (nearly 50 games in the Europa and Champions League), the step up to the Premier League will be sizable.
But, as many children of the ‘90s, he grew up watching the Premier League, and is ready to follow in the footsteps of his childhood heroes, including one Didier Drogba.
“The Premier League is a great competition, especially because of the fast thinking, technical players.
“As a kid, I’ve always dreamed about this. I watched the games Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd played and players like Didier Drogba, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and David Beckham, you name them. I want the same thing.
“Is it the best competition in the world? I don’t know. I also admire La Liga, but the Premier League is definitely the most intense. I don’t like to take the easiest way, because you’re not challenging yourself when you do. I like challenges. Those make me stronger and keep me sharp.”
-Hakim Ziyech; source: Voetbal International via Goal
Let’s hope Ziyech can indeed produce some fireworks!