Football Features

Hakim Ziyech: Man Utd and Liverpool among the clubs looking to sign Ajax’s ‘golden ticket’

By CJ Smith

Published: 18:29, 22 April 2019

A number of Premier League clubs are weighing up a move for Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech this summer, according to reports.

Ziyech has two goals and assists in this season’s Champions League – as well as 15 and 12, respectively, in the Eredivisie – as Ajax have raced into to the semi-finals and climbed to the top of the Dutch flight.

As ever with Ajax’s best players, though, the Morocco international has long been linked with a move away from Amsterdam, with the likes of Everton and Roma reportedly scouting him a number of times.

However, interest seems to have been ramped up to a new level thanks to Ajax’s successes this term and now, it is thought the likes of Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City are all set to make bids, while Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich are also in the running.

Having topped the Eredivisie assist charts in three separate seasons and scored 85 goals in 242 club games for Heerenveen, FC Twente and Ajax combined, Ziyech has proven his end product and shouldn’t be a new name to any fan around Europe.

“He’s a complete footballer, but underrated, you know if you’re not European, you are always underrated.”

Steven Pienaar on Hakim Ziyech

However, despite that lethal touch, the aspect of the 26-year-old’s game which will likely attract these giant clubs the most is his versatility. To challenge on all fronts, you must have a squad capable of rotation. To rotate, you need players that can play in a number of positions and fulfil multiple tactical demands.

Ziyech is ideal in this regard. This season, he has had most of his success playing as a right-sided forward, scoring 12 and assisting 11 goals in 23 games for club and country since the 2018 World Cup from that position.

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But circumstance has also seen him deployed wide on the left and as a central midfielder in a box-to-box role this term, the latter of which he has bagged two goals and an assist while playing in. He can pass, tackle, score and press in equal measure and is the very embodiment of the modern and classic Ajax player.

Arsenal are losing Aaron Ramsey and also in desperate need for further options out wide. Man City are thought to be searching out a replacement for Ilkay Gundogan, who can play a variety of midfield roles and adds great variety to Pep Guardiola’s midfield.

Jurgen Klopp is merely a couple of squad players away from overhauling City’s domination of the English game. And Man Utd? Well, they’re a bit of a train wreck at the moment and could do with as much quality as they can get their hands on this summer.

“I still talk to Justin Kluivert regularly and, yes, we’ve talked about Serie A. There isn’t a league I’d prefer to play in. It depends on the type of project the club has in store for me. The important thing for me is to keep growing as a player.”

Hakim Ziyech on his Ajax future

Even the mighty Bayern Munich, so dominant in the Bundesliga, will be taking a worrying glance over their options. The days of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are coming to an end and while Serge Gnabry is much improved at the Allianz Arena, they cannot rely solely on him, 18-year-old Alphonso Davies and the injury-prone Kingsley Coman as their wide men.

Whether it be a need to improve the starting XI or to add some much-needed squad depth, Ziyech seems like the golden ticket for just about every club associated with his name. A proposed £25m fee just adds to the clamour for his signature.

Enjoy this Ajax team while it lasts, as Ziyech is one of a host of players likely to depart the Johan Cruijff Arena this summer.