Hakim Ziyech Transfer Column | Part Two
Giving credence to the idea that the prospect of signing a player of the ilk of Hakim Ziyech is an anomaly is not far-fetched, considering the juncture at which the transfer market stands. In a climate which coerces teams to pay a king’s ransom to acquire the services of princely players, Ziyech ticks all the boxes to put a host of teams on red alert this summer.
Ed Woodward’s arrival into the role of vice-chairman at Manchester United has set pace to their own ill-fated interpretation of Real Madrid’s Galactico philosophy that has led to similarly erratic signings that contribute from solely a commercial standpoint. This haphazard approach has only pushed United further down the pecking order in the context of a fiercely competitive top six in the Premier League. With a mammoth transfer kitty at their disposal as per standard procedure, Woodward must draft a more calculated plan of action to avoid the wheels falling off from the inexperienced Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s first full season as United gaffer.
For the Norwegian to bring his prophecy of how “some players won’t be a part of that(his) success” into practice, he must accrue players that not only buy into his attack-minded style of play, but also have an established position from which they have a proven track record of coming out on top. Ziyech perfectly fits the billing.
Unlike Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford that fall under the winger cum striker hybrid, the Moroccan sensation has a defined position as a right-sided winger. In addition to this, Ziyech has showcased that he has end product as opposed to the hapless pair.
Read more | Hakim Ziyech Transfer Column | Part One |
A sensational return of 25 goals and 28 assists for Ziyech in the Eredivisie alone in two seasons is only marginally shy of the combined total of Martial and Rashford who have flattered to deceive through purple patches for brief periods in a United shirt.
Due to the Ajax star’s abilities as a provider, if either Rashford or Martial were to operate as a No.9, he could act as a fantastic supplier and be a vital cog in a potentially lightning-quick forward line that executes Solksjaer’s counter-attacking methodology in ruthless fashion.
While the jury is yet to be completely out on the likes of Martial and Rashford that have talent in abundance, the addition of one of the most in-demand players in their position will only increase the competition for places and overall quality of the squad.
Taking Ziyech into key consideration, United’s focus should stray far away from breaking the bank and investing in a player with bags of talent who could spearhead the club’s quest of becoming a force to be reckoned with again.
As Massimiliano Allegri’s decorated tenure at Juventus draws to a close, many keen observers of the Italian’s time at the helm will characterize his final season with a sense of favoritism. The veteran coach cannot be chastised for building a team around one of the greatest footballers in history in Cristiano Ronaldo and as the end result suggests, the Portuguese’s Player of the Year accolade is yet another example of performances that defy normality. However, simultaneously, a variety of critics may point the finger at Allegri for stunting the development of Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa.
The Argentine forward was expected to strike up a ferocious partnership with Ronaldo, however, displays have suggested that the pair are clearly not on the same wavelength on the pitch. The numbers do not make for good reading for Dybala as he has endured a dismal season, registering merely 5 strikes apiece in the Serie A and the Champions League as opposed to his 23-goal campaign in 2017-18.
Douglas Costa has been a victim to a plethora of injury problems as well as simply being frozen out by Allegri this campaign. Registering only 7 league appearances is a figure that would be expected of a youth product, let alone a 40-million-euro winger.
The common theme between the exclusions of the duo is the fact they are individualists by nature. Capable of turning a match on its head on their day, Dybala and Costa must be given free rein to express themselves and send shivers down the spine of the opposition.
On the other hand, much like the brilliant Bernadeschi, Ziyech oozes class in the creative department and can selflessly cater to Ronaldo to put the ball into the back of the net.
While the former Heerenveen man does not operate in a physically imposing side, his set-piece deliveries to an aerial threat such as Matthis De Ligt this season, ironically against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final was a proof of his pinpoint crossing. If Ronaldo is afforded similar service, there is no doubting that the former Real Madrid superstar will ensure that the title remains in the Allianz Stadium.
Similarly, his thunderous strike against the Bianconeri showcased that he possesses the match-winning capabilities to rise to the occasion and his potential capture could lessen the overreliance on Ronaldo to always come up with the goods when it matters the most.
Over the past decade, no club in world football has invested quite as astutely as Juventus and Ziyech’s acquisition would typify the structure of a club that is run like no other.
Despite possessing one of the most devastating forward trios in European football, Liverpool must address the issue of bulking up their attacking options in order to topple domestic treble winners Manchester City next season. While the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane have a right to claim that on their day, it is hard to outdo their brilliance, a long-term injury to even one of the triumvirate could derail the Merseysiders’ ambitions, both in the league and in Europe.
The addition of Ziyech presents a capable understudy to Salah who is also left-footed, extremely direct, an expert finisher and has experience of operating in a three-man forward line under Eric ten Hag. Deploying the Moroccan international out wide could lead to Salah functioning in a more central role where the former Chelsea man’s future has the potential to lie.
The unconvincing form of Firmino also has a role to play in this tactical shift and purely based on form, Ziyech is miles ahead of the silky Brazilian. However, his inclusion could lead to Jurgen Kopp experimenting with a 4-2-3-1 system in which Firmino is deployed as a No.10, a position that he used to operate before being moved further down the middle.
The 26-year old is a grafter and he would revel in Klopp’s Gegenpressing system. Despite being a right-winger by trade, Ziyech averages an impressive 1.9 tackles per match and he would play a pivotal role in Liverpool’s swift ball retention process.
Tactically and in terms of bolstering an incredible squad, Ziyech would be a clever signing from Liverpool and at just 25 million pounds, he could be the steal of the summer.
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