Welcome to World Class: Hakim Ziyech
When Chelsea confirmed that a deal had been made with Ajax that would see Hakim Ziyech honor the Premier League, the news was naturally greeted with a frenzied celebration of a loyal Blues dreaming of regaining his place as the top dogs in the league. ‘England.
However, purchases by Timo Werner and Kai Havertz later in the year saw Ziyech’s capture engulf a bit in all the turmoil, with the respective costs of £ 45million and £ 75million usurping the figure that Chelsea had previously paid for the Moroccan.
And yet, as the Bundesliga duo continue to struggle to find their feet in England, Ziyech has already displayed flashes of brilliance that will undoubtedly see him become a fan favorite at Stamford Bridge – although he was forced to suffer several spells on the sidelines.
“He’s so cultured and there are so many chances that come from his left foot. You can see why he is world class and why Chelsea signed him. He can score goals and create, he can see a pass. He always plays forward, so the players know he can play them. “
– Gary Cahill
Many of the best players in the world have a trademark move that it’s absolutely impossible to defend against – whether it’s Lionel Messi jumping in before wrapping his left foot around the ball or Harry’s effortless ability. Kane to move within a yard of space where he can free up a right hand drive – and Ziyech is no different.
The role of a broad striker has grown tremendously over the past decade, so much so that many of the right-wing strikers we’ve talked about throughout our Welcome to World Class series have actually been the man. main in the front row of their respective team. They are no longer expected to sit on the wing and work hard so their striker can grab the headlines.
However, Ziyech is a bit of a throwback, and his signature move accentuates that fact.
Sure, he has the footwork and quality to drive in the back when the opportunity arises, although his ability to open up his body before swinging a bad delivery with his left foot stick is nothing. that no player in the world of football can produce with such consistency.
The 27-year-old could put together a reel of hour-long highlights made only of incredible whipped crosses towards the back post, arched just out of reach of the opponent’s backline but too far from the goalkeeper for him to be able to. escape from his goal line.
It’s almost like there’s some kind of science behind it – such is the consistency of his performance – but in truth, it’s just sheer brilliance.
This ability to jostle defenses is perhaps one of the reasons why the Chelsea hierarchy were so eager to secure the services of the Morocco international, after opening the Blues’ backline in a group clash. H of the Champions League in November 2019.
With the game finely balanced at 1-1, Ziyech received the ball about five yards from the touchline and moved the ball to his left. Ajax’s Quincy Promes spotted his teammate moving the ball to his left and started running his run down the pitch, but there was absolutely nothing to fear from Chelsea’s perspective – they had nine men behind the ball and held a solid line – but a single kick from the brilliant Ziyech’s left boot opened the game.
He chose the Dutchman’s run with bewildering precision, providing the perfect weight and direction from the center for Promes to have the simple task of bringing the ball home. It was a moment of genius that proved Ziyech had the ability to unlock defense in an instant like very few players in world football.
In a strange quirk of fate, almost exactly a year to the day after Ziyech’s masterclass at Stamford Bridge, he provided another moment of magic in West London – but this time he was donned in Chelsea blue. .
After a frustrating start to his Premier League career, the Moroccan’s home win over Sheffield United summed up all that is brilliant about his game, earning two assists, including an incredible cross that helped Ben Chilwell give the advantage to Chelsea. It was almost a carbon copy of his assist a year earlier with Ajax – different team, same result.
“We watched Ziyech last season for Ajax and he was magnificent. He reminds me a bit of Riyad Mahrez but he passes the ball a little more. He’s someone who’s always trying to find a way to unlock the defenses with his delivery and he’s got a lot of cunning. “
– Rio Ferdinand
In four seasons at Ajax, Ziyech has notched 82 assists, while his 48 goals in that span prove he’s more than just a passing merchant.
In a footballing world where great forwards are judged purely by their goal, Ziyech is a refreshing reminder of the influence a creative wideman can have.
Few players in world football even come close to Ziyech’s ability to unlock defense with just one kick. A magician of a player who sees things that others can’t and performing them makes the amazing simple.