Almost five months since arriving in London, Hakim Ziyech is settled, serene and searching for ways to take his game to the next level following a summer move from Ajax.
The Moroccan made the switch from the Netherlands earlier than expected after the Eredivisie campaign was curtailed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing him time to train with his team-mates when the Premier League season restarted in July and the opportunity to acclimatise to life in a new country off the field.
Frustratingly, any growing momentum was cut short when a knee injury scuppered his first appearance in blue during a pre-season friendly at Brighton. However, the 27-year-old has now featured in our last 10 matches, starting the last four in the league, and is happy with how his Chelsea career has started.
‘So far, I’m happy. I feel good and at home,’ he said this week. ‘Those things are the most important for how you perform on the pitch.
‘I always know what I’m capable of doing so I trust myself. I’m calm in my head and peaceful so all the things are now coming by themselves.’
Ziyech’s eye-catching performances have excited Chelsea supporters who will be eager for a closer look at our number 22 in action when the Stamford Bridge gates open to a limited number this Saturday for the first time since March. Comparisons have been drawn with one of his wide attacking predecessors, Eden Hazard, a player Ziyech admits he admires and hopes to learn from.
‘Eden is a world-class player and you always take inspiration from that,’ he stated. ‘You look at the small things - how he’s playing the game, how he’s doing stuff and I know I can still learn a lot from him.’
Following Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham at the Bridge, the Blues are currently third in the table as the advent calendars start to be prised open, with qualification in the Champions League already secured.
By any measure, it has been a positive start to this convoluted season for Frank Lampard’s side and Ziyech believes belief is growing in the group that they can achieve something special over the coming months.
‘It starts with believing in it and then working harder every day,’ he added. ‘You always have to believe that it’s possible, that’s what we’re doing and we’ll see what it brings at the end of the season.’