Despite his current troubles at Chelsea and reports that the West London club is looking to let him go, Moroccan international Hakim Ziyech is confident that he has what is needed to have an impact and help the team.
In an interview this week with the “Chelsea Unscripted” podcast, the Moroccan footballer acknowledged his struggles with form and attributed his underwhelming performances to injuries and insufficient physical preparation.
“Before I came I had been out for seven months mostly. I came here and started with injuries; so for me it was more that I was already behind everybody physically,” said the Moroccan footballer. “So the way to work hard and coming back to the physical point where I’m normally at, and then still trying to go one step further, it takes some time.”
Ziyech moved to Chelsea last summer in one of the most anticipated deals of the transfer window.
With years of sustained brilliance under his belt from his accolade-filled time in Ajax Amsterdam, the Moroccan winger was billed as the technical wizard Chelsea needed to provide the magical passes required for the kind of high-flying attack game the English club is hankering after.
The Moroccan’s early performances were on par with the club’s expectations and fans’ enthusiasm. But injuries quickly slowed him down, and the change of coaches – the German Thomas Tuchel replacing Frank Lampard in January – seems to have considerably diminished his value for the English team.
Tuchel has dropped Ziyech from the starting line-up and, according to converging reports, the German coach is not particularly impressed by Ziyech’s profile and is instead looking to have Chelsea sell the Moroccan playmaker in a swap deal with Spanish club FC Sevilla.
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But Ziyech says he believes in his abilities and is ready to fight to prove himself and get back into Chelsea’s starting squad.
“I’m always the type of guy that always believes in myself, I always work hard in training. It’s not always that it comes out in games, but I’m working hard every day on it,” he said.
“I know what I can do and I always trust in myself. It’s always about believing in yourself. Of course you have some points where some things worry you, but you have to be mentally stronger.”
Sounding philosophical, the Moroccan player said that “things happen for a reason,” explaining that he believes something good might come out of his situation if he musters the fortitude and winner’s urge needed to navigate his way through it all.
“I’m still learning every day to be mentally stronger. I’m always thinking that things happen for a reason, that something better will come after that time. I always believed in that and have that mindset and the only thing I can do is try to stay calm and work as hard as I can.”
Ziyech, who has remained an essential asset for Morocco’s Atlas Lions, is still viewed by many football commentators and fans as a quality player in need of more game time to establish himself as one of Chelsea’s most indispensable performers.
For admirers of the Moroccan’s playing style, he has already proven himself at the highest level and only needs some time – and his manager’s trust – to reclaim the game-reading wizardry and the goal-scoring prowess that convinced Chelsea to buy him in the first place.
Van der Vart, a former Ajax and Netherlands midfielder, suggested in a recent interview that Ziyech is much better than some players Tuchel seems to rank above him.
Asked whether his preference for Ziyech stems from his sympathy for a former Ajax player, Van der Var said: “No, it’s because he’s the best option…. He is always able to provide for the striker and [French forward Oliver] Giroud needs guys like him.”