Now that Hakim Ziyech is definitely going to be a Chelsea player — ten days after his transfer was confirmed, Chelsea finally announced yesterday that we’ve even reached an agreement over personal terms (that could’ve been embarrassing!) — he’s gone through the usual bit of rigmarole as well in giving his first interview (no shirt-holding-up yet though).
Oddly enough, Ziyech’s first interview at Chelsea was more like an exit interview at Ajax, continuing the Dutch giants’ rather heart-warming farewells to their 26-year-old “Wizard of AMS”. (And oh look, it’s embeddable because Ajax don’t insist on restricting content to silly Apps in 2020 and instead make things available on YouTube!)
Imagine your current club asking about your excitement at joining your new club, and doing so with the genuine support and warmth of everyone involved! That’s life as an Ajax fan, I suppose.
In any case, Ziyech says a lot of the usual things players tend to say in these interviews — big club, big plans, big ambition, lots of trophies, very proud, great fans, lovely city, nice manager, etc. — but he also talks a great deal about how important Frank Lampard was to this process, both as someone who coaches the sort of football that appeals to Ziyech, and as someone who’s paid great care and attention throughout the process.
“I’ve been in contact with Lampard for a few weeks now, at first mainly by phone. We had a few long conversations about his approach, the playing style, the club, about me personally. And later on we texted a lot. Yes [the Champions League matches against Chelsea helped], that’s what he told me [but] he had been following me for a while.
“[January] wasn’t [the right moment]. Of course we had contact in the winter but that didn’t go through. [But now] it was time to settle things for the summer. I am [happy that the news is out] and it’s all formalized now. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m going to enjoy the coming months here.
“I can learn a lot from him [and] in that regard, I have a lot to learn. I had a good feeling after our talks and that feeling only became stronger. There was no doubt in my mind.”
Obviously, Lampard isn’t the only selling point for Chelsea, which is a good thing given the short dugout-life expectancy of any Blues manager. Chances are, Ziyech will see at least a couple new faces should he see out the entirety of his five-year deal at Stamford Bridge.
But one thing that will (hopefully) never change are Chelsea’s ambitions and the overall popularity of the Premier League, both of which fit very well into Ziyech’s own personal ambitions and motivations.
“I’m feeling proud. Finally, I get my chance. This is what I wanted. I’m happy.
“First of all, Chelsea are a very big club, a great club, with a lot of history of course. And they play attacking football under the new manager, with young players. That was important to me.
“And they play in one of the strongest leagues in the world. They’re a top team and play great football. That motivates me. Absolutely, [the Premier League is a dream].”
-Hakim Ziyech; source: Ajax TV
Welcome, Hakim (in a few short months). Let’s win some things!