Premier League • England

Panic stations for Chelsea as second issue halts expected transfer at crucial juncture

Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea, form a defensive wall during Premier League game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park

Chelsea are at risk of a Hakim Ziyech exit collapsing for the second time in six months after Al Nassr ordered further medical checks before greenlighting the deal.

Ziyech is one of various Chelsea players who has been expected to sign for a club in Saudi Arabia. N’Golo Kante has already joined Al Ittihad and Kalidou Koulibaly has gone to Al Hilal, while Edouard Mendy has become an Al Ahli player.

It had seemed almost certain that Ziyech would end up in the Saudi Professional League as well. He has been targeted by Al Nassr, where he could link up with Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, reports from sources such as Foot Mercato have indicated that a physical issue is causing Ziyech’s prospective buyers to hesitate.

A concern about a knee problem has arisen in Ziyech’s medical tests. In the words of journalist Santi Aouna, ‘the club has doubts about signing him now’.

It is not an ideal situation for Chelsea, who need to offload players this summer to trim their squad size – but specifically, as many as possible will have to leave by the end of the day in light of the time period taken into account for Financial Fair Play.

The Ziyech transfer hasn’t entirely collapsed yet, though. According to CBS Sports reporter Ben Jacobs, Al Nassr will put Ziyech through additional tests today.

In addition to the knee issues, Jacobs has confirmed a problem with Ziyech’s hip has also been flagged up. Yet Al Nassr have made ‘no final decision’ about whether to abandon the transfer entirely.

All should become clear by the close of play on Friday. But Chelsea will be on edge as to whether they can complete Ziyech’s sale.

Second time in 2023 Ziyech move has faltered

In January, they had agreed to send him to Paris Saint-Germain. In that instance, Ziyech did pass his medical. However, errors with the paperwork meant the loan deal could not go through.

At the time, Jacobs explained to TEAMtalk exactly what went wrong.

Ziyech was only given two Premier League starts after his PSG move collapsed. He risks being stuck on the bench again if Al Nassr back out of their agreement to sign him.

There are still two years remaining on his contract at Stamford Bridge. However, there are plenty of other attacking midfielders and wingers on Chelsea’s books.

And at the age of 30, Ziyech is no longer someone Chelsea will be building around for the long term. Still a talented player, the Morocco international will hope he can find a solution soon.

Other players to have left or be leaving Chelsea this summer include Mateo Kovacic (Manchester City), Kai Havertz (Arsenal), Mason Mount (Man Utd) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (AC Milan).

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