One Chelsea legend has called on Blues boss Thomas Tuchel to deploy the team’s equivalent of Riyad Mahrez against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Hakim Ziyech has endured a mixed debut season in West London, struggling to nail down a regular place in the starting eleven, but popping up with some important goals for Tuchel’s team.
The highlight of the Moroccan’s season is undoubtedly his goal that saw Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley Stadium to ensure a place in the FA Cup final later this month.
However, he has been forced to face lengthy spells on the sidelines, limited to cameo appearances from the bench particularly under former coach Frank Lampard.
Former Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf has called on Tuchel to deploy Ziyech on the right side of midfield in a bid to unlock the kind of potential which saw the Blues part ways with 33 million Euros for the playmaker from Ajax Amsterdam.
Talking to ESPN about the midfielder, Leboeuf urged the former Paris Saint-Germain mentor to start Ziyech against Madrid.
“I’m concerned about Hakim Ziyech. If he plays, why doesn’t he (Tuchel) put him on the right?
“I saw him today very frustrated when he came off after playing like a number 10. I don’t think that’s his real position.
“Tuchel really has to think that Ziyech has to play on the right side. It’s like Riyad Mahrez, he’s a copy-cat of Mahrez (of Man City). I don’t see Pep Guardiola putting Mahrez in another position than on the right side.”
Ziyech struggled to exert his influence during the 2-0 home win over local rivals Fulham last weekend, and was substituted just after the hour mark for N’Golo Kante.
The fact that Ziyech was handed a start was more surprising considering that he has only featured in 14 games in the Premier League this season.
Talking to Mail Online following the FA Cup semi-final victory against City, Tuchel said Ziyech has shown some glimpses of his true ability.
“Hakim was very strong against Liverpool and Atletico in the Champions League, but sometimes we have had a different approach with more runners while he is more a dribbler, a passer, a guy who turns in the pockets.
“Decisions are never personal, sometimes it is the players’ characteristics. He showed me he is ready when he has come off the bench, and from what I saw in training. That is the most important thing.”
The game will kick off at 21:00 (SA time) at Stamford Bridge Stadium.
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By Prince Sobayeni