Earlier this week, Chelsea officially announced the signing of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax after agreeing terms on a five year contract.
The deal, worth a reported £37.5 million, will see the 26-year-old join in the summer, with many questioning why the deal wasn’t put through before the end of the January transfer window.
As is well documented, Frank Lampard and Chelsea were unable to sign players in the summer and having lost star man Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, the club fought tooth and nail to over turn the ruling.
Having successfully done so, chairman Bruce Buck teased fans by telling reporters that he wasn’t going to let slip who the next signing would be.
But as the end of January drew closer, Lampard cut an increasingly frustrated figure as he revealed the window was 90% shut for him on deadline day.
Then less than two weeks after the window closed, and seemingly out the blue, Chelsea announced a fee was agreed with Ajax for the winger.
Ziyech has been a stand out performer for the Eredivisie Champions, producing 6 goals and 12 assists from his 19 appearances this season.
Chelsea fans will remember him more for the three assists during the thrilling 4-4 draw between the two sides in the Champions League group stages earlier this season.
Ziyech’s statistics make for exciting reading, 322 career games, 110 goals and 125 assists, shows the type of player that Chelsea are adding to their squad.
Yes, the Dutch League isn’t as strong as the Premier League (cue Kezman) but several Dutch players have made the step and gone on to become household names in the Premier League.
Ziyech’s performances in the Champions League over the past two seasons, suggest that he’s cut from a similar cloth.
I suppose that’s why it’s perhaps more frustrating to supporters that we’ve got to wait until next season to get him in the team when we could do with him for the push for the top four now.
However, if Ajax didn’t want to lose their star man, the deal probably wasn’t possible.
And it’s not as if Chelsea only started negotiating with Ajax after the window had closed. Ziyech confirmed himself in his first interview with Chelsea TV that several conversations with Lampard were what convinced him to sign for the Blues.
‘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.’
When asked whether Lampard had noticed his performances in the Champions League, Ziyech replied: ‘Yes, that’s what he told me.
‘He had been following me for a while’.
One thing we’ve all criticised the club for is last minute panic buying, a la Danny Drinkwater. Signing Ziyech like this, goes to show the club have learned lessons.
That’s part of the problem with trial by Twitter. People believe that making these deals is as easy as picking up the phone and naming a price.
The price is something people seem stuck on, asking why we didn’t just pay a bit extra to get the deal done.
But that’s forgetting that it’s not how the club operate. This deal was done because it’s makes sense for the club, it’s affordable whether we get Champions League football or not.
Ziyech doesn’t mean that deals for the likes of Jaydon Sancho won’t happen, but it does mean the club have been doing their homework and making sure things are being done behind the scenes to give Lampard the best possible chance of success.
Is Ziyech the right player? all the signs say yes
Was it the right price? absolutely
Could the timing be better? short term pain for long term gain.
Trust the process, keep it blue, keep it carefree, keep it Chels.
Up the Chels.
Dean is the author of ‘Cult Fiction- how a year under Sarri almost tore Chelsea apart’ available on Amazon now amzn.to/2T7v5Tu