Football News

How Frank Lampard brought long-term transfer target Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea

By Mohamed Moallim

Hakim Ziyech in the 2019/20 season

Published: 11:03, 25 February 2020

Hakim Ziyech has revealed the prospect of playing under Frank Lampard ultimately swayed his decision to join Chelsea this summer.

The 26-year-old Moroccan playmaker recently agreed to join the Blues from Ajax, with the Dutch champions set to receive £33.3m for his services.

Lampard’s first signing: Five key things to know…

  • Frank Lampard became Chelsea manager last summer following Maurizio Sarri’s departure.
  • The club legend — and Chelsea’s all-time top scorer — was unable to sign any player during his first window, due to a Fifa-imposed transfer ban.
  • That two-window embargo was lifted in January 2020, but the Blues did not bolster their first-team squad last month.
  • Chelsea, though, are set to welcome Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech in the summer of 2020.
  • Ziyech, so far this season, has managed six goals across 19 league outings whilst creating a further 13 for his teammates.

It sees the Dronten-born footballer end his time at Ajax having played four seasons in the Dutch capital, during which time he’s made 162 appearances, registered 48 goals and created a further 82.

A star player during the 2018/19 Champions League — with him playing a pivotal role in Ajax’s unexpected run to the semi-finals — saw a number of clubs move for his signature but he opted to remain.

However, a fifth successive campaign is now ruled out following Chelsea’s successful pursuit. An agreement was reached between both clubs earlier this month and Ziyech has now signed a five-year deal with the Blues.

Since the announcement he has featured twice for the Amsterdammers, and ahead of their Europa League round-of-32 second leg against Getafe, with Erik ten Hag’s men seeking to overturn a 2-0 deficit at home, Ziyech spoke of Lampard’s influence behind his transfer.

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“I’ve been in contact with him for a few weeks now. At first, mainly by the phone. We had a few long conversations about his approach, the playing style, the club, about me personally, and later on we texted quite a lot.” he told Ajax’s official YouTube channel.

“Yes, that’s what he told me. He had been following me for a while,” he added when asked if Lampard had followed his Champions League performances.

“In his time he was such a big player and he was a midfielder so I can learn a lot from him. In that regard, I have a lot to learn, I had a good feeling after our talks and that feeling only became stronger. There was no doubt in my mind.”

Missing key

Chelsea, after 27 matches, find themselves sitting fourth in the Premier League table. However, the Blues have often struggled to register consistent wins, having drawn five times while losing a further nine — no team in the top nine has lost more times.

Lampard, who is still forging a team in his own image, feels Ziyech could be someone that will make their lives more comfortable next term. The current Ajax star is nominally deployed as a winger, but is capable of playing behind the centre-forward. This versatility — combined with his creative streak — excites the Chelsea boss.

“Well I think he is a fantastic player and first came into my eye line during their run in the Champions League last season,” he told Sky Sports.

“He was one of their standout players against Tottenham, of course. And then we’ve come up against him twice this season so I know a lot about him.

“I know his qualities, he has a great left foot, generally plays off the right but can play behind the front man. And when you look at us this season there are maybe games where we have struggled to unlock the door.

“He is a player we hope can bring that bit of creativity, bring something different, he scores goals and gets assists.”