Ziyech magic: Hypnotic cross-fields passes, sumptuous in-swinging crosses and a lethal left foot
Chelsea caused a stir of excitement among the fan base this week, after confirming themselves victors in the long race to sign Ajax gem Hakim Ziyech.
The Dutch-born Moroccan will arrive at Stamford Bridge in summer as Frank Lampard‘s first major signing, after the two clubs struck an agreement on a £37million deal.
With some months to go until the 26-year-old’s arrival, Sportsmail peered through the archives to sift out the moments when Ziyech really showed he was a class apart from the rest.
Hakim Ziyech will become a Chelsea player in summer after a £37million deal was agreed
The pass master
A clip did the rounds last season during the Champions League group stages.
You’ve seen it numerous times, no doubt. We all have. It’s perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing passes ever executed.
Collecting the ball on the right flank, Ziyech took a touch to compose himself and set the ball, before launching the most artistic of cross-field long passes.
A subtle right to left trajectory saw the ball pierce the Bavarian air at stunning speed. As soon as Ziyech’s left foot connected with the ball it was obvious the pass would be on target.
Marauding right wing-back Nicolas Tagliafico was hammering down the opposite touchline, graciously waiting to collect the ball in his stride before taking on an opponent. Such was the delicacy of Ziyech’s pass, all the hard work was already done.
Ziyech’s pass against Bayern Munich last season quickly became a viral internet sensation
There are those players who do things with a football which appear to go completely against the rules.
Real Madrid great Roberto Carlos is a prime example.
And yet, while Ziyech still has some way to go to having his ball striking compared to the Brazilian maestro, he’s certainly on his way.
During last season’s Champions League semi-final thriller with Tottenham, Ziyech fizzed an effort past Hugo Lloris which seemed to bend the rules of physics to its own will.
After receiving a cut-back pass from the left Ziyech, entering the opposition area, wrapped his foot around the ball in such a way that it curled away from goal but still found its way tucked into the corner of the far post.
The net was rippling before Ziyech himself even planted two feet back on the floor. Loris simply had no chance. Spurs defenders were left rubbing their eyes in astonishment.
The ball fizzed into the back of the net before Ziyech even landed back down on two feet
A good measure of a player’s confidence comes in seeing where on the field he is willing to make an effort on goal.
For Ziyech, the answer to this is quite simply… anywhere.
Whether cutting in from the wing, or being played centrally in a conventional No.10 role, Ziyech has displayed time and time again that he is willing to take a crack from distance if the conditions permit it.
Much to Chelsea fan delight, more often that not he strikes gold.
Last season, against Valencia in the Champions League, Ziyech took matters into his own hands by calmly cutting in from the left and sending a looping effort into the top corner, right on the postage stamp.
He peeled away nonchalantly to celebrate, showing this is the kind of thing which happens in training on a daily. If he can do it on the biggest European stage, the Premier League shouldn’t be an issue.
Cutting inside vs Valencia in the Champions League Ziyech had only one thing on his mind
The 26-year-old’s dynamite left foot wrapped around the ball and the stadium held its breath
Ziyech watched on as his effort arced up into the air before hitting the top corner
Set piece king
Not so much a singular moment here, as opposed an entire catalogue. When the ball is grounded outside the area, Ziyech is always amongst the huddle of potential takers.
With a wand of a left foot, it’s hardly surprising.
All eyes in the stadium fall on the Moroccan, who has the uncanny ability to get the ball up and over the wall while maintaining maximum pace and swerve. A nightmare situation for any goalkeeper.
Last season Ziyech shared freekick duty with Frenkie de Jong and Dusan Tadic. At Stamford Bridge he will certainly find himself part of a long queue, but don’t bet against him becoming the go-to set piece taker for the Blues, especially if Willian departs.
The Moroccan has the uncanny ability to get the ball up and over the wall while keeping pace
Would you like some chips with that, sir?
It’s a question Ziyech should have asked many times in his career. There is a party piece (one of many) in this man’s locker which the Premier League will undoubtedly see sooner rather than later.
For all the instances of the playmaker having a sledgehammer of a left foot, Ziyech is able to provide the perfect counter and caress the ball to such a delicate degree that his chipped efforts are almost unstoppable.
As an emerging youngster with Heerenveen Ziyech wasn’t afraid to show his party piece
Goalkeepers were left red-faced and falling backwards into their own goalmouths as a result
During the earlier period of his career in Holland, with Heerenveen and FC Twente, Ziyech whipped up something of a reputation for himself as the young kid on the block who could lob the keeper from anywhere.
Starring for Heerenveen in 2014, Ziyech stole the headlines in one match by shaping up to launch the ball powerfully from distance, only to then spot the isolated goalkeeper readying himself for the stop… standing several yards off his line.
Despite having wound back his fabled left peg to unleash the effort, Ziyech reduced all momentum from the follow through in order to produce a crisp chip to leave the keeper stumbling backwards into his own goalmouth.
Less than 12 months later Ziyech was at it again, this time for Twente and considerably further out.
After moving to Twente Ziyech continued his technique, one lobbing the ‘keeper from half way
Caught in no-mans land, the stopper could only watch as the ball drifted over his head
Breaking into the opposition half of the centre circle, panicking defenders expected the youngster to break at them with ferocious pace on the counter. Ziyech, reading the situation, made the most of their reluctance to tackle and hit a stunning lob.
The ‘keeper was red faced, and Ziyech’s legend was only just beginning. The step up to Chelsea and the rigors of the Premier League won’t be without its tough patches, however.
Yet if Lampard can help the man they called ‘the Wizard of Amsterdam’ to continue conjuring his spells in west London, the Blues have quite a player on their hands.