As Tottenham’s hunt for an attacking reinforcement continues, perhaps the most outlandish rumour to grace the media this week is a link to Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, but in complete honesty, for both parties, this makes sense.
Traditionally, Chelsea does not do business with Tottenham, nor does Tottenham do business with Chelsea. But if rivalries can be put aside, this could be a win-win for both parties.
Ziyech is certainly out of favour at Chelsea, with the Blues now possessing a plethora of attacking talent most recently supplemented by the addition of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.
Often cameoing from the bench, the Moroccan has appeared 84 times in his two seasons at Chelsea, registering just 14 goals and 10 assists for a somewhat underwhelming return (Transfermarkt).
In truth, Ziyech has never really gotten started at Stamford Bridge owing to a poor injury record, but if rumours are to be believed, he could resurrect his Premier League career with a short journey across London (AD and The Times).
As mentioned, our bitter rivalry with Chelsea has seen moves between clubs become far and few between, with the last player to make the switch Carlo Cudicini joining Spurs on a free transfer back in January 2009.
To add more fuel to the fire, former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich famously blocked Carlton Cole’s loan move to Spurs back in 2006, for the sole reason of refusing to deal with Tottenham (Daily Mail).
But now under new ownership, Chelsea – and more specifically Todd Boehly, may be more reasonable and rationed when it comes to transfers between sides.
In a now post-pandemic market, outside of a select few European super clubs, there are few sides with the financial capability to buy from one of England’s “Big Six” considering transfers fees, player wages, and bonuses.
Nowadays, England’s elite may be forced more and more to buy and sell from within (The Athletic) – already being seen this summer with Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko’s moves from Man City to Arsenal, and Sterling’s aforementioned arrival at Chelsea.
Moreover, if Chelsea continues their late summer spending spree they will surely need to sell somewhere; and although there are reportedly other parties interested in Ziyech, the list is hardly extensive (AD).
Tottenham’s main rival for Ziyech appears to be Ajax – the Moroccan’s former club, however, their interest in the midfielder is contingent on whether they can sustain Manchester United’s advances for Brazilian winger Anthony who at this point, they seem steadfast on keeping (Sky Sports).
Whilst for Chelsea, they have already bid several times for Leicester’s Wesley Fofana, harbour aspirations of signing ex-Arsenal forward Pierre-Emeric Aubameyang, and are flirting with the idea of bringing Everton’s Anthony Gordon to London (Standard).
So ultimately from their end, something has got to give, and someone’s got to go.
So now we’ve established why the move could happen, from a Spurs perspective, here’s why it should happen.
It’s no secret Antonio Conte wants an attacking midfielder, he’s said as much in stating that if Bryan Gil leaves – which looks imminent, the Spaniard must be replaced (Evening Standard).
Granted, Ziyech is hardly a like-for-like replacement, although in truth Spurs fans wouldn’t know given the amount we’ve seen of Gil thus far. But in reality, he’d be a step up from Gil and has the ability to play both centrally and wide.
The Moroccan profiles differently from any of our current midfielders, with a far greater attacking threat compared to Hoijberg, Skipp, Bentancur, and Bissouma.
His 3.43 shots and 4.39 shot-creating actions per 90 are highly impressive, whilst his 5.05 progressive passes and 8.08 progressive passes received per 90 show he is adept at moving the ball forward himself, and collecting it in advanced positions (FB Ref).
FB Ref likens Zieych to Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi – another player reported to have piqued Tottenham’s interest, so if nothing else, there at least appears to be some continuity amongst our apparent targets.
Positionally, Ziyech’s ability to play both on the wing and centrally is yet another attraction, as he could offer cover to Kulusevski, any of the midfield four, or act as an impact sub akin to Richarlison in recent weeks.
Although his Premier League career thus far is nothing to wax lyrical about, there is no doubting his quality, as Spurs fans will remember his fine finish in the first leg of our famous Champions League semi-final in 2018/19.
Really, apart from the Tottenham-Chelsea transfer stalemate, the only real stumbling block could be a lack of guaranteed minutes for Ziyech, as at Tottenham he would likely remain a bench option and rotation player rather than become a starter.
And ultimately, ahead of the World Cup, if he wanted to go elsewhere to become a starter who could blame him?
But, if the Moroccan was keen on a move to Tottenham, he would certainly arrive with a skillset vastly different to anyone in Conte’s squad at the moment, as he looks to fit the criteria needed to become Spurs’ next signing.
Unfortunately, this one is unlikely to materialise, as it may come down to Chelsea being reluctant to sell to a Premier League rival if they do receive offers from outside the league.
Nevertheless, anything can happen in football, so as the deadline edges ever closer, Ziyech to Tottenham might just be one to keep an eye on, as he would certainly be a good addition to an already quality squad.
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