Hakim Ziyech’s “left foot is unbelievably good”, says Reece James, with the Chelsea defender excited to have “clicked early” with the winger at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues moved to bolster their attacking ranks over the summer as part of an elaborate spending spree from Frank Lampard. Germany internationals Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were snapped up in deals which generated plenty of headlines, but it could be Ziyech that provides the greatest value for money.
He was prised away from Ajax before the 2019-20 campaign had come to a close, with a €40 million (£33m/$43m) deal put in place.
The Morocco international has starred since shaking off an early injury in west London, with the 27-year-old’s creativity earning plenty of plaudits.
Thiago Silva is another new arrival aiding that cause, with the 36-year-old defender adding vast experience to Lampard’s squad.
James is also enjoying playing alongside the veteran Brazilian, with the 20-year-old right-back having a commanding South American leader to his left and an eye-catching playmaker just ahead him.
James told The Athletic: “Thiago has brought a lot of experience. I have played alongside him a few times now. He has helped me a lot. You can see straight away why he has been one of the best in the world.
“He constantly talks to me throughout games, helping me in my positioning, directing me and making sure he is talking to me before, during and after games. It all adds up and improves performances.
“Further forward, there have been signs with Hakim in training. Ever since he arrived, we got on well. I knew I would be playing behind him. We clicked early and tried to build this connection in training to use this season. His left foot is just unbelievably good.”
Lampard has already talked up the value that he has found down the right flank, with the Blues boss saying of a productive partnership: “That was part of my thinking when Hakim Ziyech came to the club, the balance of the sides of the pitch which is very important for us.
“We knew Reece's quality last year in terms of crossing, and when you think you can have a winger in front of him that can offer different angles and combinations on that side to put ball into the box, then I think it can be a big strength of ours.”
Chelsea, who moved into fifth in the Premier League table, will return to action after the international break with a trip to Newcastle on November 21.