Hakim Ziyech, born in 1993, pure talent, already a technical point of reference on the Moroccan National team, as well as on Twente, quickly rose to idol status for fans of the Dutch team. Last year he ended his rookie season in a Tukkers jersey with 11 goals and the most assists of anyone in the entire league.
He has a divine left foot both kicking the ball in motion and, especially, in set piece situations, directly shooting on goal and/or free kicks from the side where the ball drops perfectly into the centre of the area for a teammate’s waiting head. He also kicks well with his right foot (oddly enough for a natural lefty). He has a very fluid and elastic position on the pitch, probably by instinct, and also a bit of mental anarchy.
You don’t really get a glimpse of that, however, when the time comes to recover the ball in a one-on-one, where he attacks the opponent vehemently and aggressively, despite a body structure that characterises him as slender, with an apparently slim muscular build.
He often prefers to start on the right side to then return “inside” the pitch and pull out his superb left foot with a shot or assist for his teammates.
Speaking of his position, it floats from an atypical wing (not suitable for a 4-3-3 formation in phases of ball possession or in defensive phases where, as mentioned already, he does not have the tendency to re-enter the spaces that help the back positioned on the side where both are playing) to an inside forward. He is reasonably good as a ball carrier, but his dribbling is enhanced by his sublime technique.
Then he must pass straight away because he is unable to hang onto the advantage after getting past the first man. He moves without the ball only to receive a pass from a teammate, rarely to favour another player’s manoeuvre or to attack deep. That means that he is suited to play as a forward midfielder who moves along the horizontal line of the pitch at his own discretion to receive passes, look up and decide what action to take.
He is less viable in a position with his back to the goal, although his build and short-term technique mean that he can also get by the opponent in this situation.
As an attacking wing he needs the support of a back who can continuously overlap to create numerical superiority and, especially in the phases without ball possession, one who knows how to contain the opponent in his area, only occasionally counting on any help from Hakim. Ziyech scored 17 times this year and served up ten assists for Twente.
It should be mentioned that Twente is having trouble from every possible angle at the moment. These last 12 months have been phenomenal for Ziyech, but disastrous for the club, which is on the brink of bankruptcy. The President, Aldo van der Laan, was forced to resign because of an illegal agreement with a company based in Malta, Doyen Sport.
Relegation is not the worst problem the club is facing right now and they have no choice but to sell their biggest resource, not only because they hope to get €10 million for him, but also because it is doubtful that they will be able to afford his salary.
Ziyech earns €800,000 annually and this is one of the reasons he signed with Twente in the summer of 2014.
Feyenoord was interested in him after his brilliant season with Heerenveen, but Twente offered much better financial conditions and also seemed like a more interesting career option.
He has a bit of an attitude to deal with but, on the other side of the coin, he has the strong personality of someone who is not afraid of anything, so suited to handle the pressures and tension of a large club.
In a nutshell, Hakim Ziyech “is a real number 10 who has fun taking a lot of risks with his passes and always thinks ahead.”