Chelsea attacker Hakim Ziyech has explained that his slow to start to his life at Stamford Bridge following a £33m transfer from Ajax last year is down to the fitness hurdles he has faced, originating from a lack of football when the 2019/20 Eredivisie season was abandoned.
The Dutch season was cancelled in March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Europe, meaning that Ziyech, who had agreed his summer transfer to Chelsea a month earlier, went more than seven months without playing a game.
A knee injury at the start of his Chelsea career also set the Morocco international back, delaying his debut until mid-October, while he then suffered a hip problem that forced him to miss the whole of December. Ultimately, the three major absences in the last 13 months have taken their toll on his fitness, meaning he has not yet had chance to reach peak physical condition for his new club.
“Before I came I had been out for seven months mostly. I came here and started with injuries, so for me it was more that I was already behind everybody physically,” Ziyech told Chelsea’s official YouTube channel.
“So the way to work hard and coming back to the physical point where I’m normally at, and then still trying to go one step further, it takes some time.
“I’m always the type of guy that always believes in myself, I always work hard in training. It’s not always that it comes out in games, but I’m working hard every day on it. I know what I can do and I always trust in myself.”
Ziyech has only made 17 Premier League appearances in his debut season in England, starting 12 of them. He has also completed 90 minutes just once in a Chelsea shirt.
The hope would be that with a summer break to rest without any international commitments and then a full pre-season with Chelsea, Ziyech will be in better shape to make an impact in 2021/22.