Former Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson has urged Chelseato hold on to Hakim Ziyech despite interest from FC Barcelona.Glen Johnson joined Chelsea at the age of 18 from West Ham United. He spent three years with the Blues but was unable to hold on to a first-team spot. After spending three years at Portsmouth, Johnson established himself as one of the best right-backs in England. He eventually moved to Liverpool in a £18.5 million deal back in June 2009.
Hakim Ziyech has failed to make the kind of impact that was expected of him after his €40 million move from Ajax in February 2020. Last season, he managed just 15 EPL starts, during which Ziyech scored two goals and had three assists.The Moroccan international finds himself struggling for gametime again this season He has scored twice and has four assists across 14 appearances this season. With the likes of Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi and Kay Havertz all competing for gametime with Ziyech, his struggles are expected to continue.
In recent days, the attacker has been linked to a move to Xavi’s FC Barcelona. Johnson believes letting him go would be a huge mistake for Chelsea:
“Yes. Hakim Ziyech is a fantastic player. If he plays with more energy I think he’d be starting a lot more games. He could definitely be one of those sales that would come back and bite you. If he starts enjoying his football, gets good game time and finds some form, then Chelsea are going to see the player that they signed originally.”
Is Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech suited to English football?
Glen Johnson claimed that Chelsea only need to help Ziyech enjoy his football again, for him to start delivering consistently:
“It’s a difficult one as he’s not at those heights at the moment which of course is why there are rumours about him leaving, but if they find a way to get him back enjoying his football and some more game time, I think they’ve got an amazing player on their hands.”
During his time with Ajax, the Moroccan established himself as one of the most unique prospects in world football. Ziyech has never been the fastest of attackers and regularly played at the attacking midfield and right-wing positions. The midfielder prefers to attack from the right, and relies on his balance and passing ability to release those ahead of him.At Chelsea, he has played mostly as a right-winger, and has not yet fully adapted to the pace of the Premier League. Ziyech has struggled to maintain the numbers that he had at Ajax but is an important player for Thomas Tuchel. The German coach has praised Ziyech multiple times for his work-rate and intelligence.
However, Ziyech is arguably at his best when he is the playmaker, and is not expected to make forward runs continuously. The skilful Moroccan has had a bit of an identity issue at Chelsea and has also had injury troubles. Last season, he temporarily looked at ease in the starting lineup, especially due to the emergence of the bombarding Reece James.While he has struggled for gametime this season, Ziyech has all the ingredients to succeed in the Premier League. The Moroccan is still expected to turn it around at Chelsea.