It was on Bonfire Night in 2019 that Hakim Ziyech first dazzled Chelsea fans on the Stamford Bridge pitch. The Moroccon star created three goals that evening, his wonderful left foot producing several moments of magic.
There was only one problem: he was doing it all in an Ajax shirt.
Ziyech’s brilliance in that pulsating 4-4 Champions League draw between the Dutch club and Chelsea didn’t go unnoticed. Frank Lampard was convinced of the 27-year-old’s talent and wanted the Blues to sign him in the January transfer window.
That didn’t happen. But on February 13, 2020, Ajax confirmed they had come to an agreement with Chelsea for Ziyech, who would join the Premier League giants at the end of the campaign.
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Things didn’t quite work out as planned after that. The Covid-19 pandemic caused the Eredivisie to be ended in April. The Premier League, meanwhile, was on a three-month hiatus.
Ziyech officially became a Chelsea player on July 1. Chelsea still had much of the 2019/20 season to play at that point. So while the winger trained with his teammates at Cobham, he would have to wait to make an impact in the first team.
That was delayed even further by a knee injury sustained in the short pre-season the Blues undertook. Ziyech didn’t make his Chelsea bow until the middle of October, six months had passed since he had last played competitive football.
It didn’t take long for Ziyech to get up to speed, however. He quickly became an instrumental part of Lampard’s side, the creative hub from which countless Chelsea attacks would begin.
Then came another setback. Ziyech suffered a hamstring injury in the win over Leeds that took Chelsea top. When he returned a month later, the Blues were in a tailspin under Lampard, one he couldn’t help the Blues legend recover from.