Premier League • England

Hakim Ziyech: Star sent brutal message over January transfer as Graham Potter is told some cold, hard truths

Hakim Ziyech celebrates scoring for Chelsea

Hakim Ziyech has been told he needs to escape his Chelsea nightmare for the good of his career, with a former Tottenham star also sending a warning to new Blues boss Graham Potter.

The Moroccan star has become a bit of a benchwarmer in recent times with previous boss Thomas Tuchel struggling to accommodate him in his side. He has started just one of Chelsea’s eight matches this season, largely struggling to justify his £33m fee since signing from Ajax.

Indeed, he has just six Premier League goals in 48 appearances for the Blues in that time, with the player only showing flashes of his obvious talent.

As such, the 29-year-old was strongly tipped to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer, with AC Milan among those keen. Ziyech was also reportedly on the the shopping lists of Tottenham and former club Ajax.

Ultimately, Chelsea’s hefty asking price appears to have put off his suitors.

As such, he remains a Chelsea player, though chances continue to elude him. Indeed, he was granted just 10 minutes off the bench in Potter’s first game in charge – the 1-1 draw with Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday.

And according to Rafael van der Vaart, that serves as further evidence that Ziyech is unhappy and needs to move on.

Move away necessary for Hakim Ziyech

“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.

“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.

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

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

The draw with Salzburg leaves Chelsea with just one point from their opening two Champions League games. Defeat in their first game – away to Dinamo Zagreb – proved Tuchel’s last act as Chelsea manager.

And Van der Vaart reckons the performance illustrates just how big a task Potter faces in turning around their fortunes.

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

Plenty for Potter to build on

Potter, meanwhile, will use Chelsea’s extended break to work with his new players. Having seen their game with Liverpool called off this weekend, that will come as a source of frustration, however, as Potter starts work out his best XI.

Nonetheless, it does seem as though any Chelsea way forward will not involve Ziyech. He has a wand of a left foot, but has never found his consistent best at Stamford Bridge. With Christian Pulisic in a similar boat, the time may be for Ziyech to move on.

Peter Crouch reckons the player is suffering from a crisis of confidence. He was one of two players the pundit told Potter needs to find a rapid fix for.

As it goes, Pulisic is one player who could yet benefit from Potter’s arrival. The American also has plenty of talent  – and time on his side to turn things around at Stamford Bridge.

Potter tends to favour a 4-2-3-1 formation and that will suit the personnel he has at Stamford Bridge. But amid claims Chelsea are planning more lavish spending in 2023, Ziyech will likely find himself moving on.

Truth be told, it is a move that both the player and the club need. And as it stands, it’s hard to see a way back for Hakim Ziyech at Chelsea.

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