With a transfer ban hindering and restricting Frank Lampard’s start to his managerial career at Stamford Bridge, the former Chelsea midfielder didn’t hold back on splashing the cash when the club’s embargo was lifted early by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In fact, the Blues’ all-time top scorer went on a massive spending spree, which included the arrival of Ben Chilwell from Leicester City, Edouard Mendy from Rennes and attacking German duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz — all of whom left Roman Abramovich’s bank account looking almost £200 million lighter!
The first man that Lampard set his sights on though was Hakim Ziyech. A key figure in one of the best Ajax sides of recent years, the Blues signed the Moroccan winger for £33m in February 2020, with Chelsea fans hardly able to wait for the exciting winger to join up with the squad in the summer — hoping that he could help make them more favourable with football betting site Betfair [valid where legla].
However, in the last year or so, Ziyech has struggled to make a real impact at Stamford Bridge and as time goes on it becomes even harder to imagine the 28-year-old ever making something out of this once so highly-rated move. But what has gone wrong for the attacker in west London? Read on as we take a look.
Arguably the main reason Ziyech has not hit the heights expected of him when he put pen-to-paper on that five-year deal 18 months ago is the fact that he is so often plagued by injury. When he arrived at Stamford Bridge from Amsterdam last summer, he was nursing a knee injury and he didn’t make his debut until mid-October, and a further knock to his hip meant that he missed much of a crucial festival period — a dire run of games that ended in Lampard’s dismissal. He started this year with a shoulder issue, missing the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace on the first day of the season, and despite having since shrugged that off, he just can’t seem to get into the squad.
Struggling to adapt to life in England
In what is often the case when players move from a different country to the Premier League, they need a bedding-in period. And Ziyech has made it no secret that he has largely struggled to adapt to life in England away from his friends and family — even citing that driving on the other side of the road to what he is used to as an adaptation issue.
“I am used to having my friends, my mum, around me,” Ziyech said. “Being without them has taken some getting used to and the lockdown made matters worse. On top of that, I’ve had to learn how to drive on the other side of the road. I’ve not had any accidents, but it was very difficult at the start.”
Ziyech has had over a year to settle into his new surroundings and while London is definitely a different culture to what he was used to somewhere like Amsterdam, it is getting to the point where this can no longer be an excuse for the 28-year-old.
Higher standard of football
Known as the ‘Wizard of Amsterdam’ by the Ajax faithful, and for good reason with 49 goals and an incredible 81 assists in 165 appearances, Ziyech’s quality is there for all to see. However, the Dutch Eredivisie is renowned for its sleek, attacking style of play with a real intent of getting forward and scoring goals. The Premier League is a completely different kettle of fish. Not only is it a far higher standard, but it is quicker, it is more physical, and games can almost be like a chess match at times. For the most part of his 25 league games in England, in which he has picked up more yellow cards (3) than scored goals (2), Ziyech hasn’t made enough of an impact and perhaps the wizard’s best magic trick is a disappearing act.
14 months into his Chelsea career, time looks like it is running out for Ziyech under Thomas Tuchel. He has been left on the bench in four of their last five Premier League games, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and even Ross Barkley coming on ahead of him, whilst the return of Christian Pulisic will likely knock him even further down the pecking order.
The onus is now on the Moroccan to prove to the Chelsea fans and Tuchel that he has what it takes to turn this around and start to make an impact in the side. But given how his time has gone at the club so far, we certainly won’t be holding our breath for anything spectacular anytime soon.
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