In a summer transfer window where the mind boggled at the amount spent – a record £870m in the Premier League – Hakim Ziyech surprisingly remained in the Eredivisie with FC Twente. His stellar performances from last term have only carried through to this term and the decision to pass up on the 22-year-old is proving to be a foolish one writes Alex Blinston.
When Jesus Corona departed Twente for pastures new this summer – The Mexican wide man joined FC Porto for £7 million – Hakim Ziyech may have expected to see bids come in for his services, and rightly so.
His performances for The Tukkers last season were sensational, particularly in a side that largely underwhelmed with financial issues at the heart of their struggles. In the 2014/15 campaign the Moroccan born playmaker recorded 11 goals and 16 assists – Ziyech was the only player in the Eredivisie to register both 11 goals and assists. No player played more key passes last term than Ziyech (83) and only Jetro Willems (75) and Yassin Ayoub (63) played more accurate crosses (60), eye-catching figures by any measure.
Twente are sat in 16th place with only nine points to their name, however, this isn’t due to a lack of effort from their captain. His seven goals and four assists this season is a sterling return and Ziyech is leading the Eredivisie in terms of key passes (43), attempted dribbles (68) and only Edouard Duplan has completed more accurate crosses than Ziyech.
The 22-year-old fits the bill of a traditional no.10. His technique and vision is first-rate and he combines this with a great ability to carry the ball at a defence with an incredible presence. Predominantly left-footed, Ziyech is equally apt with both feet and he is a menace from set-pieces – nobody completed more assists from corners last term (5).
So why did nobody make a serious bid? While there are niggling issues with his strength: although he is 5’11” he still has a very slender frame, as well as his occasional carelessness with the ball, highlighted by his pass completion this season (73.3%), neither should detract from his undoubted talent.
The Netherlands-Morocco tug-of-war took an interesting step in October as Ziyech opted to represent his country of birth, after pulling out of a Netherlands side due to injury back in June. With Wesley Sneijder’s talents undoubtedly waning, Danny Blind’s side are yearning for the architect to lead their side forward post-Sneijder; Hakim Ziyech would have been the perfect fit. After representing the Oranje at U21 level, it will be a bitter pill to swallow. With the 22-year-old yet to represent Morocco in an international fixture, nothing is concrete but all the signs are leading to North Africa with Ziyech saying, “As it looks now, I go to Morocco. I just want to play.”
A player with seemingly unbounded potential, Ziyech needs to continue his progression and inevitably a move will materialise. Great credit needs to be given to the player who didn’t ‘throw his toys out of the pram’ and attempt to force his way out of Twente. While hyperbole can often surround young players, it certainly isn’t the case for Hakim Ziyech for whom the sky is the limit.
- All stats via Opta Sports