Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag has revealed his surprise that it has taken Hakim Ziyech so long to leave the club, as the midfielder looks set to join Chelsea.
Despite having their transfer ban reduced, Chelsea failed to bring in a new signing in January, but had been negotiating behind the scenes for Ziyech.
It now appears they are very close to signing the Moroccan attacking midfielder, with De Telegraaf claiming a €45m deal has been agreed for the summer.
The move is not official yet and there is still a chance that another club could usurp the bid, but Chelsea is reportedly Ziyech’s preferred destination, and he looks likely to have the chance to call Stamford Bridge home from the summer.
Ajax boss Ten Hag has now opened up on the stories suggesting Ziyech is close to Chelsea – admitting he was surprised to still be working with him.
“A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen,” he told Fox Sports.
“I actually already expected this one or two years earlier. And each time it was: ‘wow, he stayed again’.
“We are just happy that we will still have him until the end of the season.”
Ziyech can play as an attacking midfielder, but has predominantly featured as a right winger over recent seasons – contributing eight goals and 16 assists in less than 30 appearances in this season alone.
The 26-year-old, who was born in the Netherlands, also has 32 international caps for Morocco, for whom he has scored 14 goals.
Chelsea are also said to be interested in another winger, as they are weighing up whether to re-sign Jeremie Boga from Sassuolo.
The 23-year-old is enjoying a stellar season in Serie A, having left Chelsea in the summer of 2018 – and the Blues have now made the first steps towards activating their option of first refusal on the player, who they can sign for £15m.