Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says he sees a dribbler in Hakim Ziyech despite the winger’s not having been able to really showcase the ability in the Premier League.
When people think of the dribblers at Chelsea, Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic’s names would likely pop up in their heads, but not many would immediately think of Ziyech.
The 28-year-old is an elegant player who can come up with those outrageous diagonal ball, but not often seen as someone who can glide past players — at least not so far at Chelsea.
The statistics also show that he has only averaged less than one dribble per game in both Premier League and Champions League this season.
Obviously, this is far below his standard after averaging 3.4 and 2.6 dribbles per game in his last two seasons in Eredivisie with Ajax (Whoscored).
Tuchel, however, clearly believes in the Morocco international’s ability in tight spaces.
“Sometimes, [like against] Porto in the first-leg, we have a different approach in the half positions, we want to have more runners,” Tuchel explained his front three selections in his post-match press conference.
“And he [Ziyech] is more a dribbler, a passer, the guy who turns in the pockets.
“Sometimes, the decisions are never personal, it’s for the different characteristics of the players.
“He [Ziyech] showed me that he is ready when he came on from the bench and from what I saw in training.”
There are several possible reasons why Ziyech has not been able to dribble as often since joining Chelsea.
Maybe it’s the tougher, faster opponents, or he perhaps just needs more time to adapt to the new league.
If he can produce the dribble success rate he had at Ajax, in addition to his vision and passing range, he will easily cement his spot as a regular starter here at Chelsea.