Chelsea have agreed what already looks to be one of the best signings of the summer in Hakim Ziyech.
The Moroccan is poised to become Frank Lampard’s first acquisition at Stamford Bridge when he arrives from Ajax for €45 million (£38 million) after the conclusion of this season.
Capable of scoring and providing goals from midfield in equal measure, Ziyech has established himself as a leading attacking midfielder over the past two seasons.
The 26-year-old has registered 79 goals, 87 assists and 696 chances created across 217 appearances for Heerenveen, Twente and Ajax since 2012.
With first-hand experience of the influence Ziyech has in Erik ten Hag’s side, Lampard is acutely familiar with what his incoming recruit can offer.
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“We've come up against them [Ajax] twice this season so I know a lot about him. I know about his qualities,” the Blues manager said, per Sky Sports.
“He's got a great left foot and plays generally off the right-hand side but can play behind the front man.
“Probably when you look at us this season there have been games where we may have maybe struggled to unlock the door. He's certainly a player we hope can bring that bit of creativity and something different for us.
“He scores goals, assists. I know it's not coming now but I think it's exciting for us as a club and the fans to know that he'll be here next year.”
By every measurement, Ziyech looks every bit like the creative spark Chelsea need.
But as with just about any player who comes to the Premier League from abroad, not everyone is convinced the Morocco international will be able to adapt from the Eredivisie.
Tony Pulis - a man who knows a thing or two about the physicality of English football - has warned Chelsea not to expect too much of Ziyech based on his record in the Netherlands.
“I just think you’ve got to be very, very careful,” Pulis said on Sky Sports’ The Debate, via bet365.
“Dutch football is not Premier League football.
“For all what he’s done and what he’s achieved and if they’re spending that much money you hope and pray that you get it right, but there’s different levels and there’s different levels in respect of the European leagues.
“The Dutch league is a good league, Ajax were fabulous last year and they’ve been good this year, a good group of players and they’ve been unbelievable in respect of bringing good players through.
“But the Premier League is a different animal to the Dutch league.”
Clearly, Pulis isn’t the buying into the hype that’s swept up Chelsea fans since Ziyech’s signing was announced.
In fairness, some brilliant foreign players have been made to look average in the Premier League.
However, there’s plenty of evidence that Ziyech is too good for the Eredivisie and has the potential to flourish if he’s tested at the highest level.
Pulis might well be eating his words this time next year.News Now - Sport News