Hakim Ziyech is one of few members of Chelsea’s squad that are not heading out on international duty.
The 28-year-old has had a difficult time at Stamford Bridge of late but remains one of Morcco’s elite players. However, his national team boss, Vahid Halilhodžić, has twice left him out of his squad and questioned the wingers professionalism.
“Honestly, I regret that I didn’t make this decision sooner,” said the national coach. “It is not one case of ill-discipline. We tried to talk to him, but you have to draw the line somewhere. It’s sad, it’s a mess, but also a shame.
“Ziyech has reached various limits. It is not one case, but an accumulation. After a while you just have to put a stop to that,” Halilhodžić said during a press conference last week.
Unsurprisingly, Ziyech seems to disagree with his national boss’ assessment but, the former Ajax wizard’s absence could prove crucial in rediscovering his form.
Ziyech has made do with a place on the bench for Chelsea’s last two Premier League games and not been utilised in the latter stages of those matches. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley appear to be edging ahead in the pecking order.
While the season is still young, the outlook for the £33.3million signing looked very different heading heading into the season.
“We always try to do our best to get the players in the best shape but at some point, after a lot of chances, we have to admit that Kai and Hakim are not in their very best shape,” said Thomas Tuchel
“That may not even be their fault it’s just like this at the moment. They struggle at the moment to be decisive. But we had a period after pre-season when Kai [Havertz] and Hakim were very decisive for us.
“Hakim was a key player throughout our preparation and in his first game against Villarreal in the Super Cup. Kai also delivered the assist for Hakim’s goal.
“They have maybe lost a bit of belief, confidence, whatever. We will not stop trying to boost them. Nobody is angry at them and nobody has major concerns, but we have to pay attention to the actual form.”
Ziyech was perhaps the Blues’ standout player throughout pre-season, having been present from the very first day. Tuchel was light on numbers then, not dissimilar to how the coach has to work with his Chelsea squad during the international break.
Ziyech tormented the likes of Peterborough and Arsenal, and starred on the right versus Tottenham on his way to a brace to more than earn his place in the starting XI for the UEFA Super Cup versus Villareal.
The winger provided the opening goal that night before suffering an innocuous fall that resulted in a shoulder injury, substitution and turnaround of fortunes.
But with 10 days of being a primary focus of Tuchel’s eye, perhaps Ziyech can receive the boost the Chelsea coach spoke about. There is time to get in shape and Tuchel will be able to look to the Moroccan when planning Brentford.
With likes of Christian Pulisic still recovering from his injury, Mason Mount on England duty, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner away with Germany, Ziyech as an opportunity to hone a very specific role. Given Callum Hudson-Odoi’s role on the left against Southampton, there is no direct competition for the right side.
After not playing with Morocco during the last international break, Ziyech found himself in the starting line up against Aston Villa. He was unable to take his chance.
But Tuchel has already established how important he believes the forward can be.
Speaking about the possibility of Ziyech playing with Romelu Lukaku after recovering from his shoulder injury, Tuchel noted: “Any partnership can be very promising when Hakim plays on a high level, his high level.
“When he gives the green light hopefully he can find his performance from this season very quickly, he was very important for us,” the German added.
With another opportunity, the Chelsea star must take advantage and if he does, he can be a real asset in what has been a problem position for the Blues this season.
Source by Football London