HAKIM ZIYECH should not even be here.
But Thomas Tuchel is smart enough to know he is reaping the rewards of having a moody Moroccan on his books.
Ziyech’s goal against Spurs made it two goals in two games for the wingerCredit: EPA
Tuchel is starting to finally get the best out of ZiyechCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun
If Ziyech were not so grumpy he would be currently 3,500 miles away parading his sublime skills at Afcon, where his country top their group and look destined for big things.
But a ruck with the national team boss has seen him exiled and Chelsea have a player on their hands more determined than ever to prove a point.
With the personal motto ‘don’t be afraid to fail’, Ziyech is a walking advert for every romantic desperate to see artistry overcome brute strength in the beautiful game.
The slightest man on the pitch, his left foot is a laser-guided incisor cutting down men twice his size to show that football is thankfully not a total body-building contest just yet.
Tuchel’s refusal to play him week in, week out has been another spur to drive on the brooding winger.
His blinding array of skills made him feared throughout Europe when at Ajax and he is now starting to come alive again after the best week of his 18 months in England.
Ziyech’s arcing, wickedly deceptive shot for Chelsea’s second goal was only marginally better than the razor-like shot that sliced through Brighton’s defence from 30 yards in the previous match.
It was noted that he failed to celebrate on that occasion, not even a nominal acknowledgement of his efforts.
The meaningful stare putting out a message that he is not a happy man.
An on-field spat with Romelu Lukaku over positioning and passing another signal of discontent.
For the second game in succession, little Ziyech gave his massive Belgian team-mate a lesson in the art of finishing.
And when his left-foot shot swerved over the head of Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris and into the back of the net, he had no choice but to get caught up in the jubilant scenes.
Ziyech might have fancied another little demonstration to Tuchel and to Lukaku of just what he can do, but with half a dozen men in blue shirts on top of him, he was forced to show at least a little happiness.
Playing on the right side, despite being left-footed, Ziyech continued to torture Tottenham and remind us all what he is capable of.
Ziyech is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring against SpursCredit: Getty
He has seized the opportunity of being binned by Morocco and a spate of injuries at Chelsea and is now beginning to look the player everybody hoped he would be when he signed for £33 million in July 2020.
In the fourth minute, his zipping cross found Callum Hudson-Odoi like a magnet finds a pile of iron filings and it so nearly gave Chelsea an early lead.
Eight minutes after that, having twisted and teased his way across the face of Tottenham’s box, a shot weaved through the defence and forced a save from Lloris.
When a knock forced off Chelsea’s man of the match in injury time, he received a standing ovation from the crowd.
He also got several painful slaps on the back from a bouncing Tuchel and a roar of approval in the ear as his reward.
Tuchel of course couldn’t give a rat’s tail if Ziyech is going through a football menopause with his massive mood swings.
If having the hump brings the best out of him for Chelsea, then he won’t be happy unless Ziyech is miserable.
And the more points his skinny, little firecracker has to prove the more points Chelsea will pick up.
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