Wizard Hakim Ziyech Shows He Has the Magic to Transform Chelsea

Hakim Ziyech
Hakim Ziyech shone against Burnley | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

To stand out on the same pitch as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount is no mean feat, but Chelsea new boy Hakim Ziyech is already making something of a habit of doing exactly that.

He impressed in the 4-0 win over Krasnodar, in which he bagged his first goal for the club in his first start, and then managed to one-up himself by netting a goal and an slotting an assist in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Burnley.

Ziyech’s latest strike saw him become the first Chelsea player to score in each of his first two starts for the club since Diego Costa. While that’s impressive for the Moroccan, it also speaks volumes of the Blues’ goalscoring woes over the last few years.

Chelsea haven’t seen somebody come in and make the kind of instant impact that Ziyech has had in a long time, and it’s clear to see just why Frank Lampard was so keen to add ‘The Wizard’ to his team.

Ziyech often fell under the radar this summer. His move to Stamford Bridge was signed off back in February, and by the time the transfer window was over, there had been three arrivals more expensive than him – Havertz, Werner and left-back Ben Chilwell.

The winger was injured in pre-season and had to wait until late October to make his first start, but in just 153 minutes of football, Chelsea fans have seen enough from Ziyech to get them drooling over what the future may hold.

Lining up on the right side of a 4-3-3, Ziyech was outstanding against Burnley. His constant movement, which included drifting inside to combine with Havertz and Mount (and also gift Reece James the space to do Reece James things on the right wing), completely ripped Sean Dyche’s structure apart and created room from the rest of his creative teammates to star in.

Hakim Ziyech, Tammy AbrahamHakim Ziyech, Tammy Abraham
Ziyech was a real problem for Burnley | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

With the ball at his feet, he showcased his mesmeric ability time and time again. Ziyech wrong-footed Nick Pope to fire home the opening goal and played the pass to gift Werner the team’s third, showing an impressive understanding with players alongside whom he does not have much experience.

It’s not only fans who are excited for the future. Mount admitted (via Goal) that he has already seen enough from Ziyech to long for a chance to play alongside him again.

“We know what he can do on the ball and what he brings to the team,” he said “[He’s a] World-class player, obviously coming in and scoring the other night [against Krasnodar] and scoring on his Premier League debut.

Mason Mount, Hakim ZiyechMason Mount, Hakim Ziyech
Ziyech & Mount showed a good understanding | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

“He’s a brilliant player. He’s a joy to play with, very clever on the ball, he brings a lot to the team. He’s a very good player.”

Ziyech has a special style of play which makes his teammates better both directly and indirectly. He can play the kind of pass which will gift somebody a goal, but even when he’s not on the ball, he’s pulling defenders out of position and inviting his teammates to take centre stage.

James was the main beneficiary of this against Burnley. The right-back spent most of the game playing as an attacker because of Ziyech’s willingness to drift, and it resulted in countless overloads and outstanding crosses into the box.

Frank LampardFrank Lampard
Lampard’s Chelsea are evolving | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

We saw the fluidity that Lampard has always promised would be integral to his team. Defenders were forwards, wingers were midfielders and strikers were playmakers, and there wasn’t a single thing Burnley could do to stop it.

Chelsea have not yet reached their final form, but they have now kept five clean sheets in their last six games and have scored 14 goals in that same period. All the signs suggest the Blues are gelling, and Ziyech’s emergence as a core part of the team will only make them better.

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