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Hakim Ziyech

‘Ziyech has the characteristics to be a captain’ – Chelsea are landing ‘a leader’, says Mokhtar

12:35 BST 28/05/2020
Hakim Ziyech, Ajax
A former Twente team-mate of the highly-rated forward believes the Morocco international will continue to thrive after swapping Ajax for west London

Hakim Ziyech “has the characteristics to be a captain”, says former FC Twente team-mate Youness Mokhtar, with Chelsea told they have acquired “a leader” in the exciting winger.

The Blues have wrapped up a €40 million (£33m/$43m) deal with Ajax for the Morocco international.

With the Eredivisie season having been brought to a premature conclusion amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ziyech has been freed to bid his farewells to Amsterdam.

He is being tipped to make a positive impact at Stamford Bridge, with Mokhtar among those expecting the 27-year-old to maintain his impressive progress in west London.

Having played alongside Ziyech in the Netherlands, Mokhtar told football.london: “He has the characteristics to be a captain.

“He is a leader. If things are not going well, he tries to lead and show what he’s got and to make the team better.

“You have to win his trust. If you are an honest guy with him, he will give you all of him. And he wants to tell you the truth.

“Especially with the media, sometimes if you are telling something that’s not true about him, he will remember that and keep that in his mind and his heart. He’s not a boy who forgets things quickly. If you fly straight with him, you will see that he’s a very nice guy.”

Mokhtar is also eager to point out that, despite his reputation at times, Ziyech is a bubbly character who should slot seamlessly into a star-studded squad at Chelsea.

He added: “He likes to make jokes.

“He likes to do both [jokes and pranks]. He used to do things like put Vaseline in your shoes, and we had a locker in the dressing room, and he’d put Vaseline on the handle or put water inside the locker so when you opened it you’d get wet. Those kinds of things. Funny things.”

Another former colleague, ex-Heerenveen star Jukka Raitala, has echoed those sentiments when discussing the qualities that he saw in a forward always destined to reach the top.

He said: “His body language could maybe show he was arrogant, which he wasn’t.

“Maybe his behaviour, because he was so confident, which I admired a lot, maybe that irritated some guys. He was very good with the ball; he liked to dribble and stuff like that.

“Sometimes you think a football player needs to be big and strong and stuff like that, but he wasn’t strong, so he used his other qualities. I don’t remember him struggling in like tackling situations. He was just so quick with the ball, and quick in his head that he was already in front of the opponent.”

“It was nice to watch him play, he was never stressed.

“Even though he was playing well, bigger clubs were interested, and I felt like sometimes a player could become nervous like, ‘OK bigger teams want me’ and stuff like that, but I felt like when it was time to play football he was performing well.

“In his head, he was never busy with other stuff, and that’s one of the reasons why he is now where he is. He can plug the things [distractions] from his head.”