Ajax coach Erik ten Hag has suggested that Chelsea-bound Hakim Ziyech had mapped out his future before now. The Stamford Bridge outfit are closing in on a deal for the winger after agreeing a fee for him in the region of £38million on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old will now hold talks with Chelsea over personal terms and it is expected that no issues will arise while he will sign a deal that will ensure he joins the Blues in the summer.
The Eredivisie giants are happy to allow the sale of Ziyech after receiving the fee they were holding out for with regards to the player’s valuation. However, they’re shocked that none of Europe’s biggest clubs tried to test their resolve earlier. In a chat with Fox Sports, Ten Hag revealed:
“Ziyech to Chelsea? A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen,”
“And I actually already expected this one or two years earlier. Each time it was, ‘Wow, he stayed again’. We are just happy that we will still have him until the end of the season.”
The Morocco international has been one of the best performers in the Eredivisie in recent years and his tally of 12 assists is the second-highest in the league. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to Ten Hag that Chelsea have swooped in and convinced Ziyech to continue his career in England.
“I know that our players are very popular with the big clubs in Europe,” Ten Haag added.
“That is just great. I have known for a long time what Hakim wants. He has a picture in mind. He knows which clubs he finds interesting and which not.
“Chelsea are a fantastic club. When [the deal] is final, I will be very happy for Hakim. I am very proud of him.”
The Ziyech transfer is a show of faith in Frank Lampard by the club after failing to reinforce during the January transfer window. The club were on the hunt for a striker with the likes of Lyon’s Moussa Dembele, Napoli’s Dries Mertens and PSG’s Edinson Cavani being sounded out. However, none of the moves materialized.
Ziyech has reportedly been on Chelsea’s radar for months and was a handful when they faced Ajax in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in 2019. He plays mostly as a winger but can also operate through the middle effectively as a No.10.
Chelsea are expected to further strengthen their ranks when the season ends as they are on the lookout for a striker and a left-back to provide competition for places.