Hakim Ziyech has blamed injuries for his slow start to life at Chelsea but is delighted to see the strides forward his teammates are taking under Thomas Tuchel.
Ziyech was one of a number of big-money players brought in to strengthen Frank Lampard’s squad in the summer. The former Ajax winger showed some initial promise but has struggled with injuries and form since. The same has gone for several of the other summer signings and it cost Lampard his job.
Replacement manager Tuchel has revitalised Chelsea’s campaign since taking the job in January. He has only tasted defeat twice as Blues boss and has led them to the Champions League semi-finals.
Ziyech has largely had a watching brief, though. Since his new boss came in, the Morocco international has only started five Premier League games. He has been on the winning side in just one of them.
But the 28-year-old will be hoping for better personal fortunes in the final few weeks of the season. Indeed, he doesn’t seem to be too disheartened and is pleased to be part of the progress under Tuchel.
“It’s different, different than we’d had the last six months [under Frank Lampard],” he told Chelsea Unscripted.
“He’s bringing his own vision. I think his statistics say it all, so it goes well for everybody. We are doing what we have to do and winning a lot of games, we’re playing good football.
“So I think everybody at the club is happy with his journey here.”
Ziyech has had a few injury setbacks this season, which he feels has put him behind his teammates.
“Before I came I had been out for seven months mostly,” he explained. “I came here and started with injuries, so for me it was more that I was already behind everybody physically.
“So the way to work hard and coming back to the physical point where I’m normally at, and then still trying to go one step further, it takes some time.
“I’m always the type of guy that always believes in myself, I always work hard in training. It’s not always that it comes out in games, but I’m working hard every day on it.
“I know what I can do and I always trust in myself.
“It’s always about believing in yourself. Of course you have some points where some things worry you, but you have to be mentally stronger. I’m still learning every day to be mentally stronger.
“I’m always thinking that things happen for a reason, that something better will come after that time. I always believed in that and have that mindset and the only thing I can do is try to stay calm and work as hard as I can.”
Ziyech linked with exit
Despite his optimistic outlook, there have been rumours that Chelsea could cut their losses with Ziyech by selling him.
A move to La Liga has been speculated, where he could join someone like Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid or Barcelona.
That seems speculative at this point and Ziyech still has a contract at Stamford Bridge until 2025. However, one commentator recently cast doubt on his future.
Former Netherlands international Rene van der Gijp told Veronica Inside: “It was a good choice when Lampard was coach.
“He was very enthusiastic about him. Then another trainer arrives, and he wants to play a different game.
“He wants to have runners in midfield instead of people like Ziyech.
“Then you have a problem… So it’s best for him to leave.”