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Hakim Ziyech

BIOGRAPHY

Hakim Ziyech completed his move to Chelsea from Ajax in July 2020, becoming eligible to represent the club from the start of the 2020/21 season. He had previously agreed to join the club on a five-year contract in February, making him the club’s first Moroccan international.

The predominantly left-footed attacking midfielder caught the eye with his performances cutting in from the right wing at Ajax, but can also operate as a more traditional winger on the left or through the middle behind a striker.

2020/21

It was far from an ideal beginning for Ziyech in England, as he picked up a knee injury in our pre-season friendly at Brighton which ruled him out of our first six competitive fixtures of the season. Once he had recovered, he made a bright opening with the Blues, though. He found the net on his first start for the club, in a 4-0 Champions League win over Krasnodar, and followed it up with a goal and assist on his full Premier League debut as we beat Burnley 3-0.

When he set up another two in a 4-1 victory over Sheffield United, it took his tally to an impressive two goals and three assists from his first four starts in a Chelsea shirt, with a 100 per cent win rate.

However, he was cruelly stripped of that momentum by another injury, suffered in the 3-1 Premier League win over Leeds United at the start of December. At that point we had lost just once all season, but would then lose three of our six matches during Ziyech’s month-long absence, only winning one.

He returned in January for a brief run in the team, but it would take him some time to fully return to form and secure a regular spot in the line-up. He did feature in every round of the FA Cup, though, creating a goal for Callum Hudson-Odoi in our comfortable third-round win over Morecambe and finding the net himself as we defeated Sheffield United in the quarter-finals.

From March onwards, Ziyech was to play a bigger role for Thomas Tuchel, enjoying his most consistent spell with Chelsea after seeming to put his injury problems behind him, allowing him to make his presence felt in some key games.

The most significant of those were two matches against Manchester City, who must have been sick of the sight of the player by the end of the season. First he turned in Timo Werner’s ball across the box to score the only goal of our FA Cup semi-final win, to book our place at Wembley, although the defeat to Leicester in the final would be our only loss of the season with Ziyech in the starting line-up.

Just as importantly, the Moroccan then netted our second-half equaliser against City in the Premier League, before Marcos Alonso’s late winner, in a result which proved vital to securing our top-four finish.

Pre-Chelsea

Born in the Netherlands, Ziyech started his career in the Eredivise with Heerenveen, making his senior debut in August 2012 and breaking into the first team on a regular basis the following season.

It was after his move to Twente in 2014 that his potential as a world-class talent became apparent, posting impressive figures during his two years with the club. He scored 15 goals and made 17 assists in his first campaign, before going even further with 17 league goals in his second.

That prompted Ajax to take Ziyech to Amsterdam and he helped a blossoming young side reach the Europa League final in his first season there. He also played an important part in Ajax’s success in the following season, when they made it all the way to the Champions League semi-finals, scoring his first goals in the competition as they beat Real Madrid in the last eight. 2018/19 also brought the first silverware of Ziyech’s career, as the Amsterdam side won the Dutch league and cup double.

With several players leaving after that success, Ziyech’s last season with Ajax was arguably his biggest, as he became one of the Eredivisie champions’ key players. Chelsea fans got to see his talents up close in 2019/20 too, when we faced the Dutch side in the Champions League group stage, when Ziyech set up three of their goals in a 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge.

International

He was able to show his ability on the global stage in the summer of 2018, starting each of Morocco’s group games at the World Cup in Russia. Despite bowing out of a tough group which also contained Spain and Portugal, Morocco received widespread praise for their attacking play, which Ziyech was at the heart of. He then represented his country the following year at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt.