Chelsea manager Graham Potter has insisted that he has been left “delighted” with the efforts of out-of-favour attacker Hakim Ziyech at the World Cup amid links with a move away from Stamford Bridge.
The Morocco international has failed to make a consistent impact since making the move to Chelsea from Ajax in 2020 and quickly fell down the pecking order under Thomas Tuchel.
Ziyech has also struggled to win over Potter since the Englishman’s arrival, but he shone for the Atlas Lions as they became the first African side to ever reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
The 29-year-old registered one goal and one assist from seven starts in the tournament as Morocco shocked the likes of Belgium, Spain and Portugal before losing to France in the final four.
Ziyech was also unable to clinch third place with Morocco, who suffered a 2-1 defeat to Croatia in the bronze medal match, but he garnered plenty of plaudits for his performances.
Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s return to Premier League action against Bournemouth on December 27, Potter also waxed lyrical about Ziyech and affirmed that the attacker would earn his opportunities with patience.
“He was a little bit away from the first XI when we arrived at the club. But he’s been involved and we know his qualities. We like him as a player, and he’s someone who plays in between the lines,” Potter said at his pre-game press conference.
“You can always speak a lot at Chelsea, because there will always be good players that aren’t in the starting XI, and you have to be patient.
“But we’ve been delighted with him, and delighted for him at the World Cup, I’ve kept in touch with him over the tournament. He’s a good guy and he’s got quality.”
Ziyech has come up with 14 goals and 10 assists from 92 games in a Chelsea shirt over the past two years, winning the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup in that time.
Minutes have been hard to come by for the Moroccan this term, though, as he has only played nine times in all tournaments and is yet to directly contribute to a goal.
Ziyech’s matches include five appearances in the Premier League, three in the Champions League and one in the EFL Cup, but his only top-flight start came in a 2-1 defeat to Southampton on August 30.
AC Milan have been strongly linked with a move for Ziyech over the past year and were believed to have been working on a deal for the attacker in the summer before turning their attention to Charles de Ketelaere.
The Rossoneri have been expected to reignite their interest in Ziyech in January, but a recent report claimed that the Chelsea man’s wage demands had put them off a mid-season deal.
Ziyech remains contracted to Chelsea – who sit eighth in the Premier League table for another two and a half years.