Chelsea confirmed speculation from Netherlands today by announcing that they have agreed to sign Ajax midfielder Hakim Ziyech in the summer.
BBC Sport understands that the Moroccan will move to Stamford Bridge, subject to agreeing personal terms, for an initial fee of 40m euros (£33.3m).
Ziyech had been widely tipped as a potential Christian Eriksen replacement and was even personally recommended to chairman Daniel Levy by Rafael van der Vaart, the Spurs cult hero told Voetbal Primeur, via Sky Sports.
Van der Vaart, also formerly of Ajax, was asked his feelings on Ziyech to Chelsea. His head thinks – ‘good move’, his heart says – ‘why not Spurs?’
Wonderful player and great lad. With the right coach, Ziyech is a player who would contribute big time to many top teams in Europe. I believe Frank Lampard proved so far he understands creative players and understands entertaining yet effective football. https://t.co/gQFJAQOgoL pic.twitter.com/rXqUE192Rn— Rafael van der Vaart (@rafvdvaart) February 13, 2020
Therefore I do see a good match between player-club-coach. Still a bit heart broken our MVP is leaving Ajax and Dutch football, to have seen him in a Spurs shirt would have softened my misery 😉..— Rafael van der Vaart (@rafvdvaart) February 13, 2020
“With the right coach”, is the bit that interests me, before VDV goes on to highlight Frank Lampard’s willingness to put his faith in creative players.
That has been a criticism levelled at Jose Mourinho in the past, that he would favour physical prowess over technical skill and a maverick instinct.
Indeed, with Ziyech seemingly available and affordable, Mourinho and the scouting team preferred to sign the stronger and quicker Steven Bergwijn to supplement similar attacking options that he already has at his disposal.
Ziyech may have been the perfect Eriksen replacement, as Van der Vaart once thought, but only under the previous regime and not Mourinho’s.