Premier League • England

Chelsea ‘very weak’ as ex-Tottenham man slams star at centre of big Graham Potter problem

Hakim Ziyech, Marc Cucurella, Conor Gallagher, August 2022

Chelsea look “very weak” and Hakim Ziyech in particular is one player who is symptomatic of their problems, one pundit has said.

The Blues have endured a rocky ride already this season, with mixed form and a change of manager. While Thomas Tuchel won three of his first seven games of the campaign, Chelsea owner Todd Boehly pulled the plug on his tenure.

Former Brighton boss Graham Potter is the new man in charge and he has inherited a squad full of talent.

However, he was unable to inspire an instant reaction in his first game, Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg. The result continued Chelsea’s difficult start to their Champions League group following the 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.

And according to former Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, Hakim Ziyech is symptomatic of the problems facing Potter and Chelsea.

The Morocco international has only made four appearances this term and one start. On Wednesday, he only played 10 minutes against Salzburg.

“Of course, he never really has a smiley face, but now you can see from everything that he is not having a good time,” Van der Vaart told Ziggo Sport of Ziyech.

“I hope he goes to a club where he can just play and not worry about anything else. Ziyech is a boy that always has to play when you get him.”

Van der Vaart added that Chelsea have more problems than what is apparent on the surface at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have big problems

“When you get players, you buy them not only for their footballing qualities but also for how someone is,” the pundit added.

“Then you can say that Chelsea have so many good players, but guys like him do not like to sit on the bench.

“I think Chelsea are very weak right now. There really is a lot of work to be done there.”

Chelsea return to action after the international break when facing Crystal Palace away from home in the Premier League.

Sunday’s clash with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge has been postponed ahead of the Queen’s state funeral on Monday.

As well as Ziyech, some of Chelsea’s other attackers are struggling for goals. Summer signing Raheem Sterling has scored four goals, but Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz have yet to hit their stride.

Ziyech struggling to prove himself

On paper, Chelsea have one of the most potent set of attackers of any Premier League team.

Ziyech previously starred for Ajax, Pulisic impressed at Dortmund and Havertz – who admittedly had a strong season last term – announced himself on the European stage with Bayer Leverkusen.

In the ideal world, the trio – alongside Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – would all be scoring regularly.

Even if those goals came from the bench, the vision at Chelsea is surely to be one of the highest-scoring teams in Europe.

Liverpool and Manchester City have enjoyed success on that front in recent seasons. At Anfield, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have been the standout duo, but Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota have been regular contributors.

Over at Man City, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva are all challenging Erling Haaland for goals.

But at Chelsea, the same thriving competition is just not happening. And Ziyech has never really got going in a Chelsea shirt.

The 29-year-old had strong links with a move back to Ajax this summer, but ended up staying put. Nevertheless, it is very plausible that he could soon move on.

Ziyech will have three years left on his Chelsea contract at the end of the season, but a decision over his future could come much earlier than 2025.

READ MORE: How the last 10 Chelsea managers fared during their first game in charge after Graham Potter debut