There have been a number of players who have swapped the Dutch Eredivisie for the English Premier League over the last couple of decades with varying degrees of success. Whilst the likes of Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez and Christian Eriksen have all made the transition seamlessly, there have been many others, such as Jozy Altidore and Marco Van Ginkel, who failed to acclimatize to top flight football in the UK.
Hakim Ziyech is the latest player to arrive from the Netherlands, with the Moroccan having swapped Amsterdam for West London in mid-February. The 27-year old joined his new teammates at the beginning of July, and as a result, he is expected to be up to speed ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, which gets underway in mid-September. The winger arrives at Stamford Bridge with a big reputation, and he will expected to drastically increase Chelsea’s attacking output over the coming months.
Despite finishing fourth last season, the 2019-20 campaign ended in disappointment following back-to-back defeats in the FA Cup and Champions League. Their loss to Bayern Munich at the beginning of August was particularly hard to take, with the Blues being easily swept aside in Bavaria. Although the Bundesliga champions are amongst the best teams in the world, and subsequently ousted Barcelona from the competition, many fans were left disappointed by the manner of the defeat. Frank Lampard’s side had just 37% possession at the Allianz, and created very few clear-cut chances throughout the contest. With just four shots on target in 90 minutes, it was a disappointing evening for the Blues’ forward line, and although Ziyech’s arrival isn’t expected to radically change the club’s fortunes, it should make them much sharper in the final third.
Last season, the former Ajax man registered six goals and 12 assists in the Eredivisie, and averaged around four shots per game. He also starred in the UEFA Champions League, netting twice and racking up four assists in Europe’s premier club competition. Chelsea will be hoping that he can add an extra layer of dynamism to the side, and with Willian having made the switch to the Emirates this summer, the pressure to deliver from wide areas will now primarily fall on the Moroccan’s shoulders.
Ziyech will undoubtedly look forward to teaming up with fellow new recruit Timo Werner, who joined the club from RB Leipzig earlier in the summer. He’s scored 32 goals and claimed 13 assists in his last 43 appearances, and is should be able to continue his purple patch, if he can successfully link up with the former FC Twente man. Tammy Abraham is also likely to play a significant role, and with 15 goals during his first full Premier League season, Chelsea now appear to have more than enough firepower heading into the 2020-21 campaign.
With their new additions, Chelsea’s chances of clinching silverware next season has exponentially increased. With football being the most popular sport to bet on at UK bookmakers, many Premier League punters could be tempted to back the Blues for a top two finish next year in the ante-post markets, whilst the club may also target a sixth FA Cup success since the turn of the millennium and are likely to be popular with those who regularly bet on the tournament.
Whilst Willian and fellow winger Pedro have been terrific servants over the last few seasons, neither wideman was able to deliver on a consistent basis, and Lampard will be hoping that Ziyech can produce weekly match-winning performances. The Dronten-born star has overcome adversity on a number of occasions, and with Dutch football writer Marcel Van Der Kraan having described him as “unbreakable”, he is expected to take this life-changing move in his stride. Some Premier League newcomers are given just days to settle into their new surroundings, whereas the 27-year old has been able to take advantage of a fairly steady introduction to life at Cobham.
Ziyech is expected to be a success in the top flight, and he should thrive in an attack-minded Chelsea outfit. Although not every former Eredivisie star has managed to adapt to the rigors of the Premier League, the man dubbed ‘the wizard of Amsterdam’ is expected to be a hit, and fans are hoping that the new arrival can help bring some silverware back to Stamford Bridge next season.