Hakim Ziyech

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Lampard hopeful ‘big’ out-of-contract Chelsea players stay past June 30

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard hopes he’ll have the same (or even better) arsenal of players he had all season when the Premier League returns, but accepts that the fate of loan and out-of-contract players is out of his hands.

Contracts and loans were drawn up to expire on June 30, but the coronavirus pandemic has obviously extended the season in a fashion that begs whether new contracts will address team calendars and not the world’s 12-month schedule. The Premier League has a plan. Lampard says the agreement must have individual player alignment.

There’s a June 23 deadline for players to agree to stay with the club beyond the 30th; FIFA gave the green light to the idea earlier in the coronavirus pause.

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Chelsea mainstays Pedro, Willian, and Willy Caballero are out-of-contract this summer, all having played significant roles occasionally if not during the entire season.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“We have big players in that position so that’s obviously something I’m looking at very carefully,” the boss said. “The ones out of contract here have been great servants for the club and actually have a lot of feeling for the club, but of course they will be concerned about themselves in terms of how they are now, and if pre-season is rushed they’ll want to make sure they’re alright. So it’s going to have to be something we look at. Hopefully we can have that arrangement so they can stay with us because if we play again I would love the squad to look as it’s looked all season, but we’ll have to see how that works.”

Willian had seven goals and six assists in over 2500 minutes, sometimes acting as the driver of the offense. He expressed a desire to outlast his contract in March, but this pause has affected many mindsets around the world.

Pedro has battled numerous injuries but has two goals and three assists in 18 matches, while Caballero started nine matches including six-straight when Kepa Arrizabalaga fell out of favor with Lampard.

If those players left, that would open the door of speculation even wider when it comes to Hakim Ziyech. Can he join the club from July 1, as his Eredivisie season has been completed with a third-straight Ajax Player of the Year Award?

Lampard also discussed the challenges of returning to training, saying he hopes to have the boys back on the pitch in “the middle of the week” should the Premier League signal the go-ahead on Monday.

USMNT back Dest named Ajax Talent of the Year

Sergino Dest
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American right back Sergino Dest has won Ajax’s Talent of the Year in a monumental bit of achievement for the 20-year-old.

How impressive is the honor? Previous winners include Nwankwo Kanu, Christian Eriksen, and Matthijs de Ligt (full list below). Noussair Mazraoui was the previous winner of the award,

Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech won the club’s Player of the Year for the third-straight season.

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Dest admitted that he was surprised to win the award and said it will motivate him to get better. He played in 35 matches across all competitions, scoring twice and collecting six assists.

His boss, Erik Ten Hag, had better things to say. From Ajax.nl:

“You came like a comet. You played a lot of games in Ajax 1, including in the Champions League. You showed your potential. This is well deserved.”

Dest doesn’t turn 20 until November, and chose the USMNT over the Netherlands this fall despite interest from Ronald Koeman.

The illustrious list of previous winners is absolutely wonderful for Americans fans to read:

2020: Sergiño Dest
2019: Noussair Mazraoui
2018: Matthijs de Ligt
2017: Kasper Dolberg
2016: Riechedly Bazoer
2015: Anwar El Ghazi
2014: Davy Klaassen
2013: Viktor Fischer
2012: Ricardo van Rhijn
2011: Christian Eriksen
2010: Toby Alderweireld
2009: Gregory van der Wiel
2008: Jan Vertonghen
2007: Ryan Babel
2006: Urby Emanuelson & Thomas Vermaelen
2005: Hedwiges Maduro
2004: Nicolae Mitea
2003: Steven Pienaar
2002: Maxwell
2001: Rafael van der Vaart
2000: Cristian Chivu
1999: Richard Knopper
1998: Benni Mc Carthy
1997: Mario Melchiot
1996: Nordin Wooter
1995: Nwankwo Kanu
1994: Tarik Oulida

Ziyech confident he’ll join Chelsea as planned on July 1

Hakim Ziyech
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Chelsea signee Hakim Ziyech doesn’t have any doubts about where his fate lies when soccer resumes.

Ajax and Chelsea agreed a $43.5 million fee for the playmaker to join the Londoners on July 1, but that was thrown into the air like so many other things by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Ziyech is confident that he’ll be able to join the Blues on the agreed-upon date.

That makes sense given the cancelation of the Eredivisie season, but will UEFA and the Premier League allow Chelsea to register a new player for this season (assuming it resumes).

From AD, via Talksport:

“After I signed the contract that was it – on July 1 I am a Chelsea player. I haven’t given it another thought,” Ziyech told AD.

“It’s nice for me to have some clarity. Nobody knows exactly what will happen to the transfer market. Clubs will be more anxious to attract players for large transfer fees.”

The 27-year-old Moroccan international had eight goals and 21 assists for Ajax this season after posting 21 and 24 last campaign.

Ziyech is incredibly versatile but has preferred right wing in recent years. He may line up opposite Christian Pulisic and/or Callum Hudson-Odoi, though both players may also man the right side.

Will Chelsea be able to use Ziyech if the PL resumes this summer? We’d love to see it, but it really doesn’t feel entirely fair, does it?

Ziyech’s Chelsea contract details confirmed

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Chelsea has confirmed the contract details of talented midfielder Hakim Ziyech who will join this summer.

The London giants announced on Sunday that Ziyech has signed a five-year contract with Chelsea, beginning on July 1 this summer when his transfer from Ajax is completed.

On February 13, Chelsea and Ajax came to an agreement on a transfer fee for Ziyech, reported to be in the region of $43 million.

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“I am delighted and proud to have signed for such a huge club as Chelsea,” Ziyech said in a statement. “I am looking forward to next season and hope we can achieve great things together.”

Chelsea was intent on signing Ziyech ahead of the competition and made Ajax a deal they couldn’t refuse.

The left-footed playmaker has been a star for Ajax and in the UEFA Champions League for the last few seasons, helping lead Ajax to the Champions League semifinals last season. So far this season, he’s scored eight goals and recorded four assists between the Dutch Eredivisie and the Champions League.

Ziyech’s arrival this summer surely spells the end of time for Pedro and William as attacking midfielders at Chelsea. The Dutchman, who usually plays as a right winger, cutting inside with the left foot, could create a great combination with Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, and Mason Mount moving forward. Chelsea could also certainly sign another one in that position, to keep a deep squad in case of injuries and/or fatigue.

Reports: Chelsea closing in on Hakim Ziyech deal

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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.