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Hakim Ziyech still believing, still searching for his Chelsea rhythm

Now where did he put his wizarding hat?

Malmo FF v Chelsea FC: Group H - UEFA Champions League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Back in early 2012, unsure of what the future may hold with the team languishing outside of the Champions League spots and not looking likely to get back into them (in fact, we’d finish sixth), Chelsea went out and secured the signing of Marko Marin well before the end of the season.

A few months later, we’d win the Champions League and go ham in the transfer market, overshadowing “The German Messi” with the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, and (certainly looking back now) César Azpilicueta. Marin, then 23, would fail to make much of an impact let alone a consistent one, his Chelsea career derailed by various injuries and his minutes taken by others playing much better. He scored 1 goal and added 1 assist in 16 appearances that first season, then went on loan a few times before leaving without making a sound four years after his arrival.

Werder Bremen - Donaueschingen Training Camp Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Back in early 2020, unsure of what the future may hold with the team coming off of a transfer ban and our top-four prospects looking far from assured, Chelsea went out and secured the signing of then 26-year-old Hakim Ziyech well before the end of the season.

A few months later, we’d go ham in transfer market, taking advantage of cash reserves amid a global pandemic, overshadowing “The Wizard of AMS” with the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, and (certainly looking back now) Edouard Mendy.

The analogy breaks down a bit here as Ziyech made much more of an impact last season, making 39 appearances, scoring 6 goals and adding 5 assists as well. But he started just 23 of those 39 games and completed the full-90 just once. Combined with a few injuries, it certainly feels like Ziyech has underwhelmed greatly since his arrival.

UEFA Champions League”Chelsea FC v Ajax Amsterdam”

It’s been a similar story this season, both in terms of his availability and in terms of his ability to make an impact — though recently he’s been featuring more, partly as a result of injuries to others. He’s started our last three in a row, in all competitions, and while he’s not been our best player, he’s still trying to be.

“I try to be important to the team with some goals and assists. I had some hard times behind me. I had the injury and didn’t really recover fully from it.

“I work really hard, even when it’s not going how it’s supposed to go, but I always believed in myself and the things that I can do on the pitch. That’s why I’m still believing and trying to deliver on the pitch. [...] I know what I can do and where my highest level is [and] I’m trying to find that rhythm again.”

-Hakim Ziyech; source: Chelsea FC

Ziyech did score the game’s only goal last night — our 500th in European competitions — and while that had a lot more to do with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz (which Ziyech was also quick to acknowledge), sometimes that’s enough to restore a bit of confidence and belief.

It’s a long season ahead with plenty of big games to play and we’ve already had plenty of injuries, so if Ziyech could find his rhythm and flow, that would indeed be great.

Malmo FF v Chelsea FC: Group H - UEFA Champions League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images