Premier League • England

Hakim Ziyech: Softened stance increases Chelsea exit chances, though primary suitor want key clause changed

Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech

The likelihood of Hakim Ziyech leaving Chelsea this summer has swelled, though a move to No 1 suitor AC Milan could still hinge on a Blues U-turn, per reports.

Ziyech is one of five potential exits from Chelsea’s attacking ranks this summer. Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku have already left to re-join their former clubs RB Leipzig and Inter Milan respectively.

Elsewhere, Michy Batshuayi is surplus to requirements, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is a man in demand.

The young winger wants regular game-time and Borussia Dortmund have held talks over a loan deal. From within the Premier League, Leicester and Southampton were reported by the Telegraph to be in the conversation.

However, the latest update regards Moroccan playmaker, Hakim Ziyech.

The 29-year-old is on AC Milan’s radar and has been for some time. The Telegraph’s report insisted he is ‘still keen’ on departing Stamford Bridge before the September 1 deadline rolls around.

Milan have been linked with a loan move and talks have taken place. However, their recent £30m+ acquisition of Charles De Ketelaere has had a knock-on effect.

That’s according to Italian outlet CalcioMercato, who state Milan are now only capable of offering a loan with an option to buy.

By contrast, Chelsea want a loan with an obligation to buy. Per CalcioMercato, that is a demand Milan ‘cannot satisfy’ as they do not want to lock themselves in to another hefty outlay.

With an impasse forming, the report notes Milan are prepared to test Chelsea’s patience and wait until the latter stages of the window. At that time, they hope Chelsea will accept the loan route with an option, not obligation, out of desperation.

Ziyech prepared to take financial hit

In the meantime at least, there has been a positive development in the saga.

The report adds Ziyech is now willing to lower his current €6m-a-year salary demands if it helps push a move to the San Siro through. Per the article, that is a new development.

ESPN back up the reporting from Italy and note Ziyech may ultimately decide to explore other exit routes if Milan can’t make a deal work.

However, they do stress the Milan option is his preferred outcome for the time being.

Mini exodus to spark new arrival?

If the quintet of Werner, Lukaku, Ziyech, Hudson-Odoi and Batshuayi do all leave, Thomas Tuchel could be left short up top.

He would still have Sterling, Havertz, Mount, Pulisic and Broja to call upon. However, a club challenging on four fronts needs more than five options in the final third.

What’s more, the only recognised striker remaining would be Broja who is the least experienced.

One potential option being touted to fill the void is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Barcelona’s need to shed players is a reality that is finally hitting home. Robert Lewandowski’s arrival has cast a shadow on Aubameyang’s future at the Camp Nou and a reunion with Tuchel could appeal.

Aubameyang played the best football of his career under Tuchel during their time at Borussia Dortmund between 2015-17. Indeed, the Gabon superstar notched an incredible 79 goals in 95 matches while playing under the current Blues boss.