|Desc||This season has provided further evidence that Ziyech has thoroughly outgrown the Eredivisie. Last term he excelled as Ajax won a league and cup double, while also reaching the Champions League semi-final, while this term he also has 12 assists and six goals in 19 outings. His form has led to a move to Chelsea, with the Morocco international set to join the Stamford Bridge giants for an initial £33.3 million in the summer. Finally, it appears the 26-year-old has found a destination he deems worthy of his qualities, having rejected Sevilla in the summer as he felt a switch to La Liga would be a sideways move. Ziyech is the latest player to walk the well-trodden pathway from the Eredivisie to the Premier League, but he won’t be the last; here are five other African stars who could soon quit the Netherlands for English football|
|Org||Morocco National Team|
|Club as Player||Chelsea FC|
2019 07 27 Retrieve
[Arsenal and Liverpool linked Ajax star Hakim Ziyech has confirmed he rejected the chance to join Sevilla, citing a desire to remain with the Dutch champions until he can find a perfect picture elsewhere] I feel at home here and get to play a lot. I think Sevilla are at the same level as Ajax and I won’t leave Ajax for no improvement
The right club hasn’t made an offer yet, so for now I just stick with Ajax and do my very best on the field. I think everybody gets along really well. It’s a great team. We have fun and you shouldn’t give that up for nothing. You shouldn’t leave because of leaving; it has to be something you fully approve. Like I always said: it has to be the perfect picture. Everything needs to be right. I won’t leave Ajax until I have that feeling
2019 08 12 Retrieve
[Ajax midfielder Hakim Ziyech has revealed he could have joined Bayern Munich during this summer’s transfer window] I really enjoy playing for Ajax. It feels good [to be entering my fourth season here]. I am sure Sevilla are a nice club, but I have always said that everything needed to be just right if I were to make a move. Sevilla didn’t give me that feeling, so I would rather stay at Ajax. I could have waited for Bayern Munich, yeah. But it felt like the right moment to clarify my situation, both for Ajax and myself. If a club wanted me, they could have made their move. I think everybody’s seen what we did with Ajax and what my role was in that success. A transfer was never the holy grail for me. If the right club doesn’t come along, so be it. I signed a new deal and will definitely remain at Ajax this season
[The Morrocan grabbed the second goal of the game and is now hoping Erik ten Hag’s side can prove they are not just one-season wonders over the next 12 months] We have a nice team, the atmosphere is great and I am keen to prove that last season’s success wasn’t a fluke. I am happy here. Money is not really an issue for me. I love football and I get the best football experience here. Attack in possession and press without the ball. I have developed in both areas of the game and I enjoy both things. It brings out the best in me. Every player should make his own decisions
2019 08 16 Retrieve
[Bayern Munich’s doomed search for a superstar winger. Coman’s persistent injury problems and Davies’ inexperience mean that even after signing Perisic, Bayern Munich remain in the market for another winger. Ajax ace Hakim Ziyech, 26, fits the bill in terms of attributes and age, but he has now signed a new deal in Amsterdam after losing patience with Bayern] I could have waited for them, yeah. But it felt like the right moment to clarify my situation, both for Ajax and myself. If a club wanted me, they could have made their move
2020 01 18 Retrieve
[Ajax star Hakim Ziyech says he cannot trust many people in football because it has become a big puppet show] I have knowledge of people and I don’t like fake people. I have a certain antenna with which I can filter exactly who is real and who is fake in one conversation. Who pretends and who is pure. That is very important to me. Just be normal. If I trust someone, I also blindly trust that person. Otherwise you cannot touch me, your opinion does not matter to me at all. Many fake figures are walking around football fields, so I trust few people. It’s a big puppet show and it’s getting worse
People who never speak to me do not experience me on a daily basis but talk about how I am put together. I call those people clowns. They want to perform a trick without real knowledge. But sometimes it is not their fault. The puppet show also depends on something like social media. That has destroyed the world. Everything must be beautiful, everyone wants to show everything off. It is made up. Everything becomes less personal, everything just has to be shown. That sounds contradictory, but when I post something, I do it because I like it. I make nothing more beautiful than it is and certainly not with a feeling of: look at me
[The Morocco international feels he is misunderstood by some people and finds it harder to trust people as his success grows] [I’m] not [difficult to gauge] for my fellow players and my immediate environment. They know me and experience me every day. But for outsiders, I’m not someone who is going to chat with you or go for a walk. Sometimes people expect that from me, but that’s not how I am. Nobody’s going to tell me what to do, never. And I’m not going to act. No matter how often people approach me, it is a bit too much now that things are going well. Then I immediately get suspicious. Where were they when things weren’t so good? Because of the rough period at Ajax, I have seen many faces change around me. Also from people I didn’t expect. I won’t mention names, but if they suddenly contact me again they shouldn’t expect anything from me
The outside world is a bit worried about which club I should go to. Myself, not at all. It’s true that I’m picky. Sevilla was a concrete option last summer. Definitely a nice club, but there was a technical director [Monchi], who wanted to get me to Roma a year earlier. Everything was as good as done until we heard nothing from him. Then I had to go to his club now? No. I will see what happens next summer. I really live with the moment now. I am having a great time at Ajax and I also enjoy living in Amsterdam. Next summer I will see. If not, then not. C’est la vie. That’s how I stand in life
2020 02 13 Retrieve
[Ajax star Hakim Ziyech to join Chelsea in €40m deal] A Moroccan international, Ziyech is a left-footed attacker who is comfortable playing off the right flank and coming inside, as he has often done in recent years to such devastating effect for Ajax, or on the left to attack with width and deliver into the box.
The 26-year-old possesses awareness on the ball, is technically capable of executing very difficult passes to break down compact defences, and is also a set-piece specialist, particularly with vicious inswingers from the right side. He has been a prolific scorer throughout his career, with over 100 goals for club and country
2020 02 24 Retrieve
[Ziyech reveals Frank Lampard was key to Chelsea switch] Lampard had a big role. We had a lot of contact in the last couple of weeks and he gave me a good feeling and that was also big to do with the decision
I’m happy, proud, I am excited, and I cannot wait. It [Chelsea] is a big club in a big competition. I like the style of play, they play really attacking football, and that is something that fits me and that is one of the biggest reasons I chose to come
First of all to enjoy it with the people here [at Ajax], the team-mates and the people we work with, the trainers and everybody around the club. The most important thing is to enjoy it and win the trophies we have to win
2020 02 28 Retrieve
[How new Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech almost quit football and shook off bad boy image if it were not for the interventions of Aziz Doufikar] I am his mentor. I became a youth worker after retiring and I have done it for 12 years now. I first met him when he became a friend of my son Roberto. I played for an amateur club after I retired while my son was in the youth team there. I saw Ziyech play with him and I thought: ‘Wow!’ straight away. I thought this is a big player and I asked my son who he is.
It was his friend and he told me about him. I went to see him again and I thought this boy can’t be here, he is too good, he needs a professional club now. He went to Heerenveen. He was seven, eight, nine, 10 and stayed there for 13 years.
We grew close to him and at 10 years old his father died. He then said he didn’t want to play anymore. I tried to pick him up again and said he needs to keep doing it for his father. He went away for a few days and he said he would start playing again. I called the club and explained the situation and they brought him back
I am so proud of him. To have done what he has done is a 10 out of 10 achievement. I can’t believe he got to where he is now from so little. Now he goes to Chelsea. I wanted Arsenal for him, but Chelsea have Lampard. He was a midfielder who made a difference like him. He is excited about joining Chelsea. It is a big club and I think it is time for him to leave Holland as he is 26 years old. He is a man now; he can go do his thing and play for Chelsea. He could play anywhere he wants.
2020 02 28b Retrieve
[Hakim Ziyech recalls losing his father] I remember well, it was winter, just after Christmas. My father was in a bed in the living room. He’d been sick for some time, getting worse and worse. I had to go to bed that night, but I wanted to stay with him. Finally, I fell asleep on the edge of his bed. Around midnight, I woke up and went up to my room. A few hours later, around 3am, I heard family members crying downstairs. I went into the living room. My father was dead
2020 04 24 Retrieve
[Ziyech says Ajax should have been awarded Eredivisie title over AZ] Come on, what nonsense I have heard? We are at the top anyway. All those stories that AZ deserved more because they defeated us twice. So the goal difference, as it always is, doesn’t count now?. Bullsh*t of course. How did PSV become champion in 2007? Exactly, on one goal. That we are not official champions, well. Of course, I would also have preferred to have won the title on the field, but if you have to choose one club as champion, that is Ajax to me
That would have been my closing in style. As it is now, you do not want it to end. But over a longer period of time, I will cherish my best memories. And then, of course, that brings up last season. The championship, but especially our journey in the Champions League, how we amazed the whole world with our game. It all fit. That not only gives me a special feeling for all the players, but I think it will last forever. We left something at Ajax. And for me, it is now time for something new
2020 04 24b Retrieve
[Ziyech prepped for Stamford Bridge move despite uncertainty] I really haven’t been serious about that for a second. I think my signature is under the contract and so yes, on July 1, I will be a Chelsea player. I never had any other thought. In any case, the question is when the countries will really open again and I can safely start there. And then there is indeed the decision on the league that is played there. But I have no influence on that, I will see it all by then.
Of course this clarity is very pleasant. Nobody knows exactly what will happen to the transfer market. Clubs will be more anxious to attract players for large transfer fees
2020 04 27 Retrieve
[Ziyech ready for step up with Chelsea after rejecting big clubs in the past] Now, everything feels right. Chelsea is a very big and nice club. There are a lot of talented youngsters, which puts me in a position I’m used to after the last three-and-a-half years at Ajax. It suits me well. Chelsea has a coach who loves attacking and attractive football in Frank Lampard. I feel the same way. We had some good talks. Lampard is really calm and presented himself well. We immediately felt a connection, which also convinced me to make this decision. Therefore, now is the time to make a move. I’m ready, also as a person. It will be a new phase of my life to be further away from my family and friends in London. I don’t see it as a struggle, quite the opposite actually. I’m really looking forward to it. I will give it my utmost, and will learn so many new things that will make me grow even further
[Regarding the prospect of playing in England’s top flight] The Premier League is a great competition, especially because of the fast thinking, technical players. As a kid, I’ve always dreamed about this. I watched the games Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd played and players like Didier Drogba, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and David Beckham, you name them. I want the same thing. Is it the best competition in the world? I don’t know. I also admire La Liga, but the Premier League is definitely the most intense. I don’t like to take the easiest way, because you’re not challenging yourself when you do. I like challenges. Those make me stronger and keep me sharp
2020 04 27b Retrieve
[Hakim Ziyech has described the ‘weird’ feeling of not being able to say a proper goodbye to Ajax ahead of his move to Chelsea] This isn’t the way I wanted to finish the season and say goodbye to Ajax, obviously. I, and all people around the club, had something great in mind for the coming months. That isn’t happening and that’s very unfortunate. I knew it was over when [Dutch PM Mark] Rutte said there will be no football until the first of September. I wanted to end my time here in a good way, with a championship title.
On the other hand, I immediately accepted it because there’s clarity now. The health of all people is more important, after all. It is weird. Not just for me, but for everyone in the Netherlands and the rest of the world. I’m quite relaxed to be honest. I try to keep busy and not give over to the crisis. Everybody should try to keep doing what he or she is supposed to be doing. I do that by training every day. By doing that I want to make sure that I’m ready to deliver on the field as soon as this is all behind us
[Ziyech could at least take some solace from the fact his last game at the club was a win, with Erik ten Hag’s side triumphing 3-1 away to Heerenveen on March 7] Thankfully, we won. That was it for me at Ajax. The end. Weird, though. I think you are right when you say it was a remarkable adventure. I was able to experience great things at Ajax and also some less nice things
2020 07 15 Retrieve
[Hakim Ziyech: New Chelsea signing says it is a dream come true to move to Premier League] When you are a young guy you always want to play for a big club, in the Premier League of course. When I was young, the players that played here, it was always a big club so I am very happy and it means a lot. I was playing in the youth in Heerenveen and here was playing Drogba, Lampard, Terry, all those big names. We were always for Chelsea, and if you look at now, if you can play here it means a lot to me.
[The former Ajax forward said Lampard’s attacking style of play was a big reason why he chose to move to the club] It was important for my decision. I like the style of play he is using now. The attacking play was for me a big decision to come to Chelsea. It was a crazy game (the 4-4 draw). If you were a neutral supporter it was a fantastic game. For us it was a little bit less because we were 4-1 up, but it was a crazy game. I think the neutral fans, that is why they like football, because of moments and games like this.