‘More problems than most’: 29-year-old Chelsea player said he really struggled with Tuchel’s tactics at first

Hakim Ziyech admitted that it took him longer than a majority of the Chelsea players to fully understand Thomas Tuchel’s methods.

Speaking to the club’s media, Ziyech honestly explained that taking on the manager’s demands did certainly not happen overnight.

A slow but important process for Ziyech

Nothing has been a quick transition for the Moroccan since he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2020.

He did not immediately transfer his form over from Ajax to Frank Lampard’s team.

A change in coach probably didn’t help the consistency the player was searching for.

Injuries have also played a part in the attacker’s failure to hit the right notes on a regular basis.

However, having now spent over 12 months with Tuchel, it seems Ziyech has finally found his rhythm.

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The 29-year-old looks comfortably within Chelsea’s system, whether that be in a front three with wing-backs or as part of a side deploying a flat back four.

His statistics after January speak for themselves.

Ziyech has scored five times in 2022, including the incredible strike against Tottenham Hotspur and the winner away to Crystal Palace.

Hakim is much happier now

But despite looking sharper than ever before in a blue shirt, he revealed the constant changes in formation have not always been easy to comprehend.  

“Yeah, it affects me of course. Everybody knows that if I play wide, it’s my best position. So, when we play four at the back, most of the time I play wide,” he said.

“When we play a back five, it’s a different system. But I think during the time since he came in, I adapted really good.

“I think I had a bit more problems than most of the players because I never used to play in the back five.

“I needed some time. I took that time to adapt and learn from it and to improve and I think if you see me in this world, it’s much better than the beginning.”

Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Fans are seeing a totally different version of Ziyech to the one they welcomed nearly two years ago.

Those flashes of quality have been stretched out across longer periods.

Crosses are finding their targets; shots are nestling in the back of the net.

It would be difficult to exclude Ziyech from Chelsea’s best XI with everyone available.

Something we didn’t anticipate typing this time last March.  

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.