Hakim Ziyech suffers £58m Chelsea fate as Thomas Tuchel searches for Eden Hazard guarantee – Daniel Childs

Probably the most demoralising part of Hakim Ziyech’s latest injury setback was how familiar it felt.

Coming just at the moment the Moroccan was offering the sort of influence Chelsea hoped to see when they invested £33m in his signature two years ago, Ziyech is again forced to watch on from the sidelines as others take up his potential minutes.

This is a sadly repeating pattern for the 28-year-old. In his first season at Stamford Bridge, a similar setback occurred as he was becoming one of Frank Lampard’s most vital players, a hamstring injury ruling him out of the festive period.

Eight months later, after a strong pre-season of performances, Ziyech suffered a shoulder injury in the UEFA Super Cup, a game in which he had opened the scoring.

Again this curtailed a solid start to the season and meant his first league start had to wait till after the September international break.

Although it has taken him until the new year to start performing, Ziyech has been Tuchel’s standout attacking player in 2022 so far. Netting in three consecutive Premier League games across January and February against Brighton, Spurs and Crystal Palace.

All three were the opening goals, the winner at Selhurst Park proving the biggest on a day when Chelsea was not at the races.

Being forced off against Lille five days before the Carabao Cup final ruled him out of a game. He would have likely started where Chelsea missed a finishing touch.

Ziyech is suffering a fate that a fellow attacking peer, Christian Pulisic, has at Stamford Bridge so far.

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The £58m American has found injury setbacks a continual obstacle to overcome whenever trying to regain his strongest form. And like Ziyech, Pulisic is competing for minutes against a variety of options Tuchel has to choose from.

Both players’ continued injury woes are a part of Tuchel’s struggle to find a consistent attacking lineup, along with the lack of form in that area too.

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If you track back a few years ago, Chelsea had wide players that rarely got injured, such as Willian, Eden Hazard, and Pedro. All three were major parts of the Blues attack and helped Antonio Conte uncover a title-winning formula.

Although Willian came in for criticism, his durability and consistency across seven seasons were invaluable to multiple coaches who found a significant role for him in their teams.

A player’s greatest strength is their availability, which a few of Chelsea’s attackers cannot provide regularly.

Ziyech will hopefully be back fit soon and can quickly rediscover his good form. But the fear of another injury down the line would further define an unfortunate trend to halt him ever becoming something greater.

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