Hakim Ziyech’s former coach has laughed off suggestions that he would struggle physically in the Premier League.
The 27-year-old Moroccan forward is set to join Chelsea from Dutch giants Ajax this summer after both clubs reached an agreement in February.
Chelsea’s new boy: Five key things to know about Ziyech
- Age: 26
- Career path: Heerenveen (2004 – 2014) > FC Twente (2014 – 2016) > Ajax (2016 – )
- Senior appearances: 287
- Goals/Assists: 95/110
- Major honours: Eredivisie (2018/19), KNVB Beker (2018/19), Johan Cruyff Shield (2020)
His impending departure, which will make him Frank Lampard‘s first signing as Chelsea manager, ends a four-season association with the Amsterdammers who are going to receive £33.3m for his services.
Up until now Ziyech has exclusively played his club football in the Netherlands having started at boyhood team Heerenveen before joining FC Twente from whom Ajax plucked him in August 2016.
The Dronten-born footballer has arguably been the top-performing Eredivisie player since his Twente days with last season being the campaign he truly announced himself to Europe.
Ziyech played a pivotal role in Erik ten Hag’s side’s unlikely run to the Champions League semi-finals last season which subsequently garnered the attention of several clubs including his future team who reportedly pushed for a winter move.
His decision to join the Londoners raised a few eyebrows with some observers questioning whether Ziyech has the stamina to excel in English football’s top division but his former Heerenveen coach, Hans de Jong, could only smile when that point was put to him.
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De Jong laughed as he told Sky Sports: “They are still saying that he has a problem with his physicality.
“That is what everybody is saying right now but they were saying the same when he came from the academy at Heerenveen. They said the same when he went to Twente – problem with his physicality. Same thing at Ajax. So I don’t think it’s a problem.
“I have absolutely no doubts. He is going to beat the next challenge.”