Former Man Utd boss on why Hakim Ziyech can be ‘special’ at Chelsea

Date published: Wednesday 3rd June 2020 8:51 - Robert McCarthy

Hakim Ziyech has been backed by Louis van Gaal and a former Ajax team-mate to flourish in the Premier League with Chelsea.

The Morocco international forward is set to join his new team-mates soon, after a £33million deal for the player was agreed back in February.

Ziyech caught the eye after playing a starring role in the young Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals last season before they suffered heartbreak against Tottenham.

And Aston Villa and Netherlands winger Anwar El Ghazi – who played alongside Ziyech in Amsterdam – expects his former team-mate to hit the ground running when he gets his first taste of Premier League action.

“You have to think about your muscles with so many games [in the Premier League],” El Ghazi told Bureau Sport, as cited by

“I thought I was big and heavy, but sometimes you run into a player and you think: is that a wall?

“But Ziyech is going to do well at Chelsea, 100 per cent. He has his qualities and he shouldn’t have to be physical.

“He’s agile and can move well because he’s so thin. Going to the gym doesn’t mean going to Basic Fit [Dutch gym chain] to become a powerhouse.

“You can also work your core, train your abs, pull-ups. It doesn’t make you a bodybuilder. Being in the gym doesn’t just mean pumping and pumping.”

Ziyech has also received praise from former Netherlands and Manchester United boss van Gaal, ahead of his hotly-anticipated arrival at Chelsea.

Van Gaal told NOS: “He has developed tremendously at Ajax. Not so much in creativity, but as a team player.

“The public have realised that he works very hard for a creative player. And then he also scores goals and gives assists. Then you are a special player.”


Meanwhile, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is prepared to sanction two “marquee” signings this summer, starting with a cut-price move for Ben Chilwell, according to a report.

The Blues have been among the quietest of Premier League clubs in the past two transfer windows, partly due to their transfer ban imposed for last summer’s market.

However, Chelsea failed to get any immediate deals over the line in January, with Hakim Ziyech’s impending arrival the only deal done to add to the squad.

According to The Athletic, Abramovich is “as enthusiastic as ever” about the opportunities that lie ahead, despite the uncertainty over Chelsea’s budget amid the financial impact of football’s postponement. Read more…


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