José Mourinho may have doubts, but if Roma can find a suitable deal for wantaway forward/midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo before the winter transfer window closes next week, they may have an ideal replacement lined up already: Chelsea's jack-of-all-trades attacker Hakim Ziyech.
If that name sounds familiar, well, it should. In the summer of 2018, Ziyech was supposed to be the crown jewel in Monchi's summer spending spree. The then 25-year-old Moroccan midfielder/winger/forward was fresh off a nine-goal, 15-assist campaign for Ajax, which, combined with the seven goals and 10 assists he dropped the prior season, left Ziyech with very little to prove in the Eredivisie.
With Roma balking at Ajax's asking price, Monchi quickly pivoted to PSG veteran Javier Pastore, forking over €24.7 million for the talented but oft-injured playmaker. This decision proved to be Monchi's undoing as El Flaco struggled mightily, scoring three goals in 596 Serie A minutes during his first season with the club, while Ziyech was busy racking up an absurd 19 goals and 16 assists in all competitions for Ajax during the 2018-2019 season.
Ziyech received his big-money move in the summer of 2020, moving to Chelsea on a €40 million transfer. However, with only six league goals in two-and-a-half seasons, Ziyech's dream move has been anything but, and the now 29-year-old could swap Stamford Bridge for the Stadio Olimpico as Zaniolo's potential replacement.
According to La Repubblica, Tiago Pinto and the Roma brass have been in touch with Ziyech's representatives, and plan to have a three-year deal ready to go the minute Zaniolo signs on the dotted line with Tottenham or AC Milan, the two clubs most heavily linked to Roma's 23-year-old forward. La Repubblica believes Roma will sign Ziyech through 2026, paying the Moroccan international €4.5 million plus bonuses, a figure eligible for Italy's Growth Decree tax savings.
While Ziyech's time with Chelsea has been underwhelming, with little more than 3,000 minutes on his legs over the past two seasons, he could find new life with Roma. Pairing Ziyech with Paulo Dybala and Lorenzo Pellegrini would give the Giallorossi a trio of dynamic attacking talents capable of breaking down some of Italy's stingiest defenses.