Hakim Ziyech is a man in high demand with Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City holding interest in the current Dutch Footballer of the Year while, according to the Guardian, Tottenham Hotspur hold a long-standing interest.
The Moroccan playmaker’s exploits with Ajax in the Champions League – that’s seen him score twice and provide two assists as de Godenzonen continue to enthral with a semi-final looming – has only seen his estimation grow further, both in reputation and value.
So, with a summer move looking plausible, we take a look at what those in the know have to say on the 26-year-old attacking midfielder.
Two at least are entirely complimentary.
Steven Pienaar – former Ajax star
If Ziyech impressed last term then this time out he has progressed to another level with an outstanding 17 goals and 14 assists for the Dutch giants as they seek a historic treble.
Suitably blown away the club’s former schemer, Steven Pienaar, insisted this week via Goal.com that the 23-cap international is a ‘complete’ footballer while intimating too that the praise he receives pales to that lavished on Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong due to each star’s nationalities.
“Ziyech is one of the players that has been playing really well all season, he’s the type of player that when you watch him in action, he makes you happy,”
“He’s a complete footballer, but underrated, you know if you’re not European, you are always underrated.”
Erik ten Hag – Ajax coach
It would be unrealistic to expect a manager of Ajax to speak too effusively on his players given how much the club values the need for their young talent to remain grounded. This is especially pertinent to Ziyech who hardly lacks self-belief.
Even so, the pragmatic coach – who has also seen his stock significantly rise of late – temporarily dropped his guard back in September and was content to eulogise on his ornate creator, via BBC:
“Ziyech is a piece of jewellery for Dutch football. I think he plays football in a nice team, with lots of good footballers around him and it runs smoothly, which gives him pleasure and motivation to achieve even more.”
Algemeen Dagblad – Dutch newspaper
So impactful has Ziyech been in the Netherlands since his progression through the Heerenveen ranks that it surprises many that he remains in the Eredivisie when so many of his contemporaries are being lured away elsewhere.
This can partly be explained by the player’s temperament off the pitch and inconsistency on it because make no mistake about it Ziyech is a special prospect; he is also mercurial though.
Last May the respected Dutch publication Algemeen Dagblad – via Reuters – perfectly summed up his hot and cold application.
“Ziyech is a player whom everyone is always talking about. It is because in a single game he can manage to be both absolutely brilliant and astonishingly sloppy.”
When he’s on his game there are few better at influencing proceedings and carving out opportunities anywhere across the attacking third, but particularly down the right. His vision and anticipatory reading of openings is excellent and, crucially, he has the touch and technique to do that justice.
With Christian Eriksen struggling for form it is surely necessary for Spurs to ease their Dane’s creative burden this transfer window. They need look no further than Amsterdam and the city’s king of the assists.