Which Premier League Club Would Suit Hakim Ziyech Best?
April 24, 2019
Any joy derived from watching Ajax this season has been tainted by an unavoidable sense of foreboding. The Dutch side have lit up the Champions League this season, blowing away Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the competition’s semifinals while playing a brand of exciting, dynamic football. But we all know how this story ends.
Not so long ago, Monaco upset the Champions League’s natural order. Their young team was the most exciting seen in Europe for a generation, but as quickly as the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayoko made Monaco a force, they were picked apart by the elite.
The same will happen to Ajax this summer. In fact, it’s already started happening, with Frenkie de Jong already set to join Barcelona and Matthijs de Ligt another who has been linked with a move to Camp Nou. No player has been the subject of as much conjecture as Hakim Ziyech, though – Ajax’s Moroccan spark.
The Envy of Every PL Club
At 26, Ziyech certainly isn’t the youngest of Ajax’s prospects. He has been around the block somewhat in the Eredivise, turning out for Heerenveen and Twente before making the move to Amsterdam nearly three years ago. But the Moroccan has this season blossomed into the kind of talent that has Premier League clubs in particular salivating.
Almost every member of the top six has, at one point or another, been linked with a move for Ziyech this summer. But assuming, as many do, that the Moroccan will leave Ajax sooner rather than later, where would be best for him to take the next step in his promising career?
As is the case with many right-sided attackers, Ziyech has been most strongly linked with Manchester United, who have a hole to fill in their forward line. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jadon Sancho are also on the Old Trafford club’s shortlist, but Ziyech might prove to be the most obtainable of the targets.
Of course, Man Utd might not be the best place for a player at Ziyech’s stage of development to go. The Moroccan is now coming into his peak years as a professional and United are in something of a mess right now. If Ziyech wants to reach the top of the sport, his chances of doing that at Old Trafford in the not so distant future are slim.
Arsenal are also thought to be interested in the Ajax attacker. They too, like Man Utd, have a gap to plug on the right side of their forward line and Ziyech very much appears to be a player in the mould of the North London club. The Gunners under Unai Emery are also following an upward trajectory. The signing of Ziyech would be the next step in their development.
In Ziyech’s Hands
Then there’s Manchester City, who are also reportedly tracking the Moroccan. Unless one of either Riyad Mahrez or Leroy Sane moves on this summer, though, it’s difficult to envisage where Ziyech would fit into Pep Guardiola’s plans. For all his quality, he would, most likely, be a peripheral figure at the Etihad Stadium.
Even Liverpool have been linked with a move, although their situation is much the same as Man City’s. Jurgen Klopp already boasts one of the best forward lines in Europe, so unless there is some squad turnover (i.e. Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane leaving for Spain) Ziyech would be a fringe figure there.
Perhaps the most intriguing possibility is the prospect of Ziyech at Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs are well-stocked in the attacking third, but there could be a vacancy to fill if Christian Eriksen moves on this summer, with the Dane still stalling on talks over a new contract. Ziyech wouldn’t be a direct replacement for Eriksen, but would at least restore some creativity to Mauricio Pochettino’s frontline.
Ziyech might not go on to become as big a star as some of his Ajax teammates, most notably De Jong and De Ligt, but the Moroccan would make for an extremely shrewd signing for a Premier League club this summer. Presented with a number of options, his pick of the English football elite, Ziyech must now plot the right career path.
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Author: Graham Ruthven
Graham Ruthven is a football writer and broadcaster based in Glasgow, Scotland. He was written for the New York Times, the Guardian, Eurosport, Bleacher Report, Four Four Two, The Scotsman and others. He is also a football shirt aficionado and still maintains to this day that Dennis Bergkamp didn’t mean it