Chelsea will be chasing more major silverware when facing Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday, with the Blues hoping Hakim Ziyech – a player branded “world-class” by former defender Glen Johnson – shakes off a slight injury to play at Wembley Stadium.
Thomas Tuchel saw knocks picked up by in-form stars during the 2-0 victory over Lille in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 encounter on Tuesday.
Ziyech was among those forced from the field, but the Moroccan winger – with seven goals and five assists this season – is expected to be in contention against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.
How good is Ziyech?
The 28-year-old made a slow start at Stamford Bridge, on the back of a move from Ajax in the summer of 2020, but has come of age in the current campaign to end any talk of a lack of commitment.
Ex-Chelsea full-back Johnson told GOAL in association with bettingexpert: “I think he’s world class. I think he’s unreal. He is top drawer.
“When he wants to, he can pull games apart. Sometimes he gets a bit of criticism because he looks a little bit lazy, but I don’t think he is that at all. It’s just the way he plays, he is super relaxed and calm. I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“He does work hard, he just doesn’t have the body language that looks like he is working hard.”
Johnson added on the value being found in Ziyech when his £33 million ($44m) transfer fee is compared to the £70m ($94m) in took to land Kai Havertz and £98m ($131m) required to prise Romelu Lukaku away from Inter: “You can’t get world-class players, or not very often, for that kind of money so it is really good business. If they can keep doing that, it is going to stand them in really good stead.”
Will losses be cut on Lukaku?
While Ziyech is thriving for Chelsea, serious questions are being asked of how long club-record signing Lukaku will be sticking around during a second spell in west London.
Johnson is not convinced that losses will be cut this summer, with the Belgian moved on once more, but admits that things have not played out as planned.
The ex-England international said of Lukaku: “I wouldn't jump to conclusions and say it’s the end, but it hasn’t gone as well as he wanted or the club wanted.
“He is still a good player and if they can get the best out of him, then he will be an amazing asset. At the moment, for whatever reason, it isn’t quite clicking.”
Pressed on whether Lukaku is the right player in the wrong system, Johnson added: “That’s the player’s problem. You can’t blame the manager, you can’t blame the system, you can’t blame the other players. If you are all doing that to try and satisfy one person, then that one person might be the problem.
“Chelsea play great football, they have fantastic players and the manager is world class, so if you can’t fit into that then it’s your problem.”