Liverpool have been linked in recent days with a move for Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech and Martin King has all you need to know about the Moroccan midfielder.
Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana’s long-term injury lay-off came, without doubt, as a huge blow to both his manager’s plans and the fans’ bright expectations.
The Reds have been enduring a near impossible time with fellow clubs in the transfer market all summer, as priority moves for Naby Keïta and Virgil van Dijk have seemingly hit the buffers, making Lallana’s loss a painful rub of salt in some pre-season wounds.
However, a much more uplifting piece of news has recently emerged, linking the Merseyside club with a move for Ajax Amsterdam’s Hakim Ziyech. The midfielder is claimed by Moroccan outlet Les Lions De L’Atlas to be a target for Jürgen Klopp, with other outlets even reporting that the Liverpool boss has sent out representatives to hold talks over a possible move.
This news is much welcomed, not only for the fact that Klopp’s squad is believed to still be requiring a further injection of quality ahead of the new season, but because Lallana’s thigh injury, which will see him ruled out for up to four months, has already left a big hole in the Liverpool side.
The question is, should the Reds make Ziyech their fourth summer signing, could he be the one to fill it?
Last season was undoubtedly Lallana’s best as a Liverpool player ever since his move from Southampton in 2014.
The Englishman may have recorded just eight goals and seven assists, however, his overall contribution to the side was well worth triple those numbers and he easily established himself as one of the players key to Klopp’s pressing system alongside becoming one of England’s best midfielders.
That said, replacing him was always going to be a tough job, though in Ajax’s Ziyach, Liverpool are presented with a player who brings a similar set of skills to the table and maybe even potential to be better than Lallana.
Profiling Hakim Ziyech
- Dutch-born Moroccan international aged 24
- Primarily a central midfielder with ability to fill in as a winger
- Joined Ajax Amsterdam last summer following two years at FC Twente
- Boasts 12 goals and 20 assists from his first season at Ajax
- Estimated market value: €21,5 million
Key attributes: Vision, mobility, energy, in-game intelligence, technique, link-up play, goals.
From the moment these qualities are mentioned in any conversation, the name of Lallana should never be excluded because the above are simply his bread and butter.
The terrific thing, though, is that the very same can be said of Ajax midfielder Ziyech, who possesses all the above in abundance.
The 24-year-old has made a name for himself in Dutch football as a dangerous attacking midfielder with a keen eye for the back of the net.
His 20 assists in all competitions, though, speak volumes of a player who is just as gifted in creating chances for his teammates, as he is to grab one himself and one can strongly back that with the fact he made a total of 378 passes with an accuracy of 77% last season.
83% of those passes were directed forward.
Lallana’s ability to use both his feet on the ball is an outstanding attribute on its own, however, very often an unmentioned problem within the Liverpool squad has been their lack of numerous left-footed specialists.
Klopp has solved that to an extent with the signing of winger Mohamed Salah, however, before that the only player Liverpool could truly rely on with their left foot in pressure-filled situations was Daniel Sturridge.
The potential addition of Ziyech equals another naturally left-footed addition, which despite not seeming like too big of a deal, is a big boost as it ensures Liverpool are dangerous in attacking situations from both sides.
Add to that Ziyech’s ability from set-piece situations and his confidence in shooting from long-range and Klopp could be looking at a real gem in the Moroccan.
How realistic is a move to Liverpool?
Given that Liverpool have gone from chasing after potential quality under Brendan Rodgers to challenging for proven quality under Klopp, the Reds’ chances of signing Ziyech look realistic at the moment.
However, with the midfielder fairly established at Ajax and his contract running up to 2021, it may not be at all pessimistic to foresee Liverpool given yet another long and tiring run-around, as Ajax should be as keen as any club to keep an important player.
If a move is going to happen without fuss though, it would be interesting to see just how much Ajax demand for Ziyech, who – considering this transfer window’s highly inflated prices – is likely to go for way more than his current €21.5million estimated market value.
Either way, given the opportunity Liverpool should take the gamble on the Moroccan winger, as he would represent a more than suitable addition to Klopp’s set-up, with not only his replacing of Lallana taken into consideration but overall squad depth – something which Liverpool need ahead of a highly competitive season.