Liverpool Opinion: £30 million- bargain Hakim Ziyech could solve the Reds No.10 woes next season
According to the Mirror, Champions League semi-finalists and Eredivisie champions Ajax have set a price tag of £30 million for in-demand attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech, with reports claiming that Premier League giants Arsenal and Liverpool have registered an interest in the Moroccan ace.
The Mirror claims that Ziyech also has offers on the table from Serie A giants Roma, as well as clubs in Spain and Germany, but the 26-year-old has not had his head turned by the transfer speculations.
Hakim Ziyech is not the only Ajax player to have attracted interest from bigger clubs, though, with the Mirror suggesting that the Dutch champions are currently having to brace themselves against approaches for several of their star players, including the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, David Neres and others.
Ziyech has been on the radar of Liverpool for quite some time now, and his heroics in the Champions League this season might just prompt the Reds to firm up their interest in the 26-year-old.
The Moroccan was one of the key driving forces behind Ajax’s fairytale run to the semi-finals of Europe’s elite club competition, as the playmaker contributed with 3 goals and 3 assists to propel Erik ten Hag’s side to the last four before they eventually lost out to Spurs.
The 26-year-old has established himself as one of the mainstays of a hugely impressive Ajax side over the past couple of seasons, earning rave reviews for his playmaking abilities in the Eredivisie. Ziyech contributed with an eye-watering 16 goals and 13 assists in 29 appearances in the Dutch top flight this past season to help his team clinch the domestic title.
Ziyech has been amongst the standout performers in the Dutch league for a long time, and now that he has showcased his ability to deliver the goods against top-quality opposition in the Champions League, Liverpool might just be tempted to play a gamble on him this summer.
In fact, Ajax’s£30 million valuation of the playmaker should set the fans at Anfield licking their lips, given that such a fee is considered quite modest for a top-drawer Premier League side in the current market scenario. It won’t be too much of a risk for the Reds to fork out£30 million for a highly-creative player like Ziyech, simply because of the fact that his arrival could potentially solve a key issue for Jurgen Klopp and company.
Looking back at the previous campaign, one area where Liverpool lagged behind Man City was the absence of an influential central attacking midfielder.
The Reds have been without an out-and-out No.10 in their ranks since the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona and that is something Klopp needs to sort out this summer, despite the likes of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino racking up goals and assists for fun.
To be honest, there was very little to choose between Man City and Liverpool in the Premier League last term, and while the Reds should be happy to have gotten their hands on the Champions League, Klopp needs to add that little bit of unpredictability and X-factor to his midfield.
The likes of Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho and James Milner all played their part exceptionally well but they do not particularly fall in the bracket of creative players.
Liverpool largely played a 4-3-3 formation over the course of the previous campaign, with Salah and Mane starting in wide roles on either side of the pitch to complement Firmino in a false 9 role.
However, a closer look at the team dynamics would reveal that Salah and Mane predominantly drifted inwards to get inside the box, while full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson provided width and creativity from the flanks.
Alexander-Arnold and Robertson racked up a combined total of 29 assists in all competitions this past season, which is indicative of the fact that the Reds depended heavily on their full-backs for creativity.
However, one cannot help but feel that the addition of a dynamic No.10 to their ranks would add another dimension to the team’s attack and make them all the more formidable in the final third.
A technically-gifted and tactically-versatile elegant, yet explosive left-footed creative ace, Ziyech has all the ammunition in his repertoire to set the stage on fire with his creativity, vision and footballing intelligence.
He has often been used as a right-winger due to his left-footed nature but Liverpool should be looking at him as an out-and-out No.10 in a central attacking role behind their prolific front trio.
Adept at linking up with the attackers up front and breaking the opposition’s lines with his highly creative passing, Ziyech has flair, trickery, sharpness and agility to create his own space in the midfield, whilst his eye for final balls always keeps the defenders on their toes.
A tricky customer who always seems to have some magic up his sleeve, the Moroccan is not only an expert playmaker but he is also very much capable of scoring goals from outside the box, with his powerful left foot making him an absolute gem of an attacking asset.
To add to that, his set-piece ability is comparable to the very best in the world and his propensity for getting inside the box to score goals could transform Liverpool into a near-unbeatable force, not only in the Premier League but also in Europe.
Ziyech accumulated a total of 106 key passes in the Eredivisie this term and also completed 76 of his attempted 94 dribbles, which is an incredible success rate for any player. Furthermore, he attempted a total of 154 shots over the course of 29 outings, stats which look simply jaw-dropping on paper.
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To sum it up, it is not difficult to see why the acquisition of Hakim Ziyech would be a massive coup for the Reds, and at £30 million, he might as well prove to be the bargain of the season.