Martin Jol has advised former club Tottenham Hotspur to sign Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech.
The 26-year-old Morocco international has played an instrumental role in the Amsterdammers’ route to the Champions League final.
Ziyech threat. Five things to know…
- Ziyech joined Ajax from FC Twente in 2016.
- He’s played 125 games for the Amsterdammers in all competitions.
- Ziyech has scored 39 goals and created a further 57 in an Ajax shirt.
- So far in this season’s Champions League he’s bagged two goals and two assists in nine appearances.
- Both of his goals came at home and away against Real Madrid in the round of 16.
Ahead of the first-leg showdown between Spurs and Ajax, two clubs Jol has previously managed, the Dutch coach spoke glowingly of Ziyech. Since joining Ajax from FC Twente in 2016 he’s transformed into one of their most important players.
Nominally a deep-lying forward, but capable of playing on the right flank where he’s been stationed for the majority of this season, Ziyech has made 125 appearances for the record 33-time Dutch champions.
Jol, who has been impressed with Erik ten Hag’s side, has not only identified Ziyech as a threat in this upcoming semi-final duel, but feels Spurs should be his next stop.
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“If I was Spurs, I would sign Ziyech. He is not the strongest but he is developing into a very good player,” he told The Guardian.
“There is one thing. Look at Tadic. He was an average player in the Premier League but in the Netherlands, he is one of the best in the league. In the Netherlands, it’s not as difficult as people think.”
The impossible dream?
Even the most die-hard Ajax supporter couldn’t have envisaged their side reaching the Champions League semi-final this season.
Since the infamous Bosman ruling changed the landscape of European football in 1995 there’s been a gradual decline of clubs from outside Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues reaching the latter stages of the tournament.
Prior to Ajax this season you have to go back to rivals PSV Eindhoven in 2005, and since the 1997/98 expansion of the competition, allowing more than one club per country, there’s only been Dynamo Kyiv (1999) and FC Porto (2004) – the latter going to win the tournament under a young Jose Mourinho.
If the Amsterdammers were to get past Tottenham they would match Porto, but equalling their feat becomes tricky as the opposition in Madrid on June 5 will be either Barcelona or Liverpool, both of whom are armed with a plethora of match-winners.