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Hakim Ziyech: a mesmerising talent who is not afraid to speak his mind

The Ajax winger who is joining Chelsea in the summer has criticised coaches and teammates in the past but also developed into a world-class player

“I say what i feel and that’s why I’m not the simplest guy for a few coaches.” One thing is needless to say about Chelsea’s new €44m signing, Hakim Ziyech: he’s not a yes man.

The quote comes from an interview I did with him in 2015, when he was at Twente, and few people at the club were spared. He was brutally honest about what he felt the issues were with the coach, most of his teammates and therefore the board. once I asked him just before the article was published if he was conscious of the potential fallout he said: “That’s fine. the reality hurts.”

A lot went on since: Ziyech is 26 and prepared to require the most important step of his career by moving to Chelsea within the summer. He has developed significantly as a person and a player within the past five years and Chelsea are signing someone who has adapted to the very highest level and can always play together with his heart, trusting his intuition.

“This may be a good step; Hakim is basically ready for it now,” says Aziz Doufikar, a former professional player and a youth worker who kept Ziyech out of trouble when the youngster was growing up in Dronten. Despite being 30 years older than Ziyech, Doufikar played street football together with his protege within the early 2000s and coached him at indoor tournaments. agen sbobet

They have tons in common. “Just love it happened to Hakim, my father died before I had my breakthrough and that’s difficult. I said: ‘Our fathers check out us from above and that we need to make them proud. Come on, don’t worry, start .’”

Ziyech will always remember Doufikar’s support and still invites him to Amsterdam for games. Doufikar, asked what has turned Ziyech from an honest Eredivisie player into a world-beater, says: “He has learned to not always placed on his lounging jacket , but sometimes his overalls.”

Certainly Ziyech has added diligence to his eyecatching talent. he’s not just a flair player. He makes more runs, he contributes heavily to the defensive work and always urges teammates to stay going, even at 4-0 up.

The Morocco international was one among Ajax’s standout players as they took Europe by storm last season. He developed into a way more complete player but, crucially, lost none of his attacking spark. He scored in both legs as Ajax eliminated Real Madrid within the Champions League last 16 and was within the right direction|not off course”> on track in the semi-final second leg against Tottenham.

Perhaps the foremost telling sign of Ziyech’s importance was that when he was injured in mid-January, Ajax lost their spark.

Ajax fans were devastated when the news broke that he’s joining Chelsea. they’re going to miss the swirling passes, creativity, delightful technique, eye for the sport and scoring ability of a playmaker who mostly operates from the proper wing. “I wouldn’t put him below someone like Riyad Mahrez,” the previous Ajax coach Frank de Boer said recently on Fox Sports.