Frank Lampard is “excited” about the potential of Hakim Ziyech at Chelsea and believes the Blues may well have their replacement for Eden Hazard in the Moroccan international.
Ziyech made his long-awaited full Chelsea debut in the Champions League defeat of Krasnodar on Tuesday night and made it 3-0 in the second half.
Having been hampered by injuries since his switch from Ajax, the mercurial 27-year-old forward will hope to begin making a real impact at Stamford Bridge.
Ziyech, who can play in multiple different attacking roles, was a vital player for Ajax and contributed 38 goals and 60 assists in 123 games across the last three seasons for the Dutch champions.
Lampard is hopeful that his summer signing can have a similar impact at Chelsea, who are still looking for a new talisman in attack after Hazard left for Real Madrid over 12 months ago.
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“We had Pedro last season and Willi [Willian] was a huge player. The year before that we had Eden Hazard. Those sort of players don’t get replaced on a whim,” Lampard said.
“With Hakim we had the potential to bring in someone with real different qualities to what we’ve had in recent years in terms of a left-footed, right-sided player which was his main position position at Ajax.
“I know he also played in a No 10 and he can definitely do that for us if we want to play a No 10.
“But he does it in a way that he very much about opening up chances for others with his crossing ability and final pass.
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“He’s not necessarily a winger who is going to fly past players all the time, albeit that is in his game.
“He can find a pass and sometimes last season I felt we lacked that when we were playing against low-block defences.
“We saw a bit of his quality and personality against Krasnodar. The idea of receiving the ball and turning, facing forward and finding that pass before teams are set, that is what I’m excited about to see from Hakim.”
Lampard believes Dutch-born forward Ziyech has the kind of self confidence and strong work ethic to be a real hit for the Blues, who have endured a mixed start to the Premier League season.
They sit 10th after six games, having won two, drawn three and lost one, scoring 13 goals but also conceding nine.
“I really like him as a personality,” Lampard continued. “I had conversations with him very early when we signed him and was struck by his confidence.
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“There is an inner confidence which I love. We needed that. We need players with confidence and personality who believe they should be here and want to offer something.
“He has been an absolute dream to work with.
“Sometimes you see the best of players when they are injured because he was so excited to come here and hit the ground running and got his injury in pre-season and his work ethic in the gym, interaction with the physios, desire to get fit and to form relationships in the group.
“He had played at a good level and I watched him in a lot of the Champions League games for Ajax so I knew he had the ability to play at this level but I get what you are saying it is not an easy league.
“I have said that about other players and I can’t take Hakim out of that either.
“I need players who can try and make that pass and try to bring us up a level. Hakim showed that at Krasnodar and that is part of the reason he settled – and it was his first start – is because of his mindset.”
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