'He is a dream to work with' - Lampard impressed how Ziyech's inner confidence is helping Chelsea

Hakim Ziyech Chelsea 2020-21Getty

Frank Lampard has been impressed with Hakim Ziyech's personality since joining Chelsea in a £37 million ($48m) move from Ajax, particularly relating to his 'inner confidence' and ability to connect with people.

Chelsea signed the 27-year-old in February and he joined up with the squad in July but his early career in west London has been disrupted by a twisted knee sustained in the club's only pre-season game away at Brighton.

Ziyech has since recovered and made his first start for the club in the 4-0 away win over Krasnodar in the Champions League. He marked the occasion with a goal and Lampard is glad to have the Morocco international amongst his options.

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"I really like him as a personality," Lampard told reporters via a Zoom video link from Cobham Training Centre. "I had conversations with him very early when we signed him and was struck by his confidence. There is an inner confidence which I love. We needed that.

"We need players with confidence and personality who believe they should be here and want to offer something. He has been an absolute dream to work with.

"Sometimes you see the best of players when they are injured because he was so excited to come here and hit the ground running and got his injury in pre-season and his work ethic in the gym, interaction with the physios, desire to get fit and to form relationships in the group, he has made himself at home and felt at home in a short space of time.

"I think he is going to be a big plus for us on the pitch and in and around the pitch I can see it already in the way he has trained and the confidence in the way he has trained with.

"People always think that personality is just about getting a foot in, shouting and fighting to the end. Of course, you require that in football, but sometimes personality is receiving the ball in tight areas when others don’t want to and taking the confidence to keep getting it and make things happen even if you try a pass that has not got there.

"He’s not necessarily a winger who is going to fly past players all the time, albeit that is in his game. He can find a pass and sometimes last season I felt we lacked that when we were playing against low-block defences.

"We saw a bit of his quality and personality against Krasnodar. The idea of receiving the ball and turning, facing forward and finding that pass before teams are set, that is what I’m excited about to see from Hakim.

"We had Pedro last season and [Willian] was a huge player. The year before that we had Eden Hazard. Those sort of players don’t get replaced on a whim.

"With Hakim, we had the potential to bring in someone with real different qualities to what we’ve had in recent years in terms of a left-footed, right-sided player which was his main position at Ajax although I know he played in a No.10 and he can definitely do that for us if we want to play a No.10."

Lampard has almost a full complement of players fit ahead of his side's trip to Burnley in the Premier League with just Kepa Arrizabalaga and Billy Gilmour on the injured list.

The competition for places up front with Ziyech back is also present in defence, as Antonio Rudiger came back into the fold in midweek to compete with the likes of Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma for a starting spot.

That is along with both Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori in the squad and Lampard admits that squad management will be a key factor in his side's success or failures this season.

"I’m very conscious of it because to win anything you need to have a tight-knit squad," he added. 'We do have a big squad, we have five centre-backs and it’s not necessarily easy to manage. I say that in a genuine way.

"We probably have to upset to some degree three of them every game in the way they are not starting depending on circumstances. I respect the players and feelings and I am sure that they expect and want to start and have a really good case to start.

"I have to make sure the feel of the squad is good and the spirit is good. At the minute it feels really good. So the example of Toni coming in and training well over the past couple of weeks and coming in and performing with a level of concentration and control and the way he played is a fantastic example for any player that does not play so much."