According to reports by Dutch publications De Telegraaf and Voetbal International, Chelsea has reached a verbal agreement for the transfer of Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech, costing around $49 million. The report has since been corroborated by The Athletic’s David Ornstein.
The De Telegraaf report states that Lampard was hoping to secure a player like Ziyech in the January transfer window, but since no new additions were brought in, the club began work immediately to secure the player’s signature in the summer. It also states that Ziyech wishes to finish out the season at Ajax before moving on, hoping to push for another Eredivisie title as well as the Europa League crown.
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The report states that until a deal is signed with Chelsea, Ajax is open to other top European clubs who show interest in Ziyech, but at the moment the Dutch side is only negotiating with the Blues.
The 26-year-old joined Ajax in the summer of 2016 from fellow Dutch side FC Twente, and burst onto the scene last season when he scored 21 goals and assisted 24, helping Ajax reach the semifinals of the Champions League. He stayed amid heavy interest last summer, remaining despite the departure of fellow hot commodities Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.
This summer would be the ideal time for Ajax to cash in on Ziyech, as his current contract expires in the summer of 2022. The Moroccan international signed an extension last summer, warding off interest from the likes of Sevilla, but with two years left on his deal the club would be wise not to let that dip any further. He has seen a dip in goalscoring form this season with just eight goals, but his creativity has not dropped a bit, already bagging 21 assists across all competitions.
Ziyech would be an interesting fit for Chelsea. Young academy product Mason Mount has risen to claim the central creative role, but on the wing things are shifting at Stamford Bridge. Pedro‘s role is diminishing, while Willian will be 32 years old by the start of next season. 21-year-old Christian Pulisic has performed well when healthy and 19-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi is growing into his potential, but the young pair still has developing to do. The arrival of Ziyech would allow the club to transition away from the older duo and fully embrace its youth movement without diminishing its attacking talent on the flanks. Ziyech can also play in the middle, decreasing the seemingly heavy load on the shoulders of Mount.