I’m not sure there’s been a busier man in all of football this summer than Roma’s very own Monchi—here we are on June 29th and he’s already signed nine new players. Starting with the free capture of defender Ivan Marcano to yesterday’s unveiling of Lens prospect WIlliam Bianda, Monchi has covered virtually every area of the pitch. From Antonio Mirante at the back to Bryan Cristante in the middle to Justin Kluivert up front, Monchi has doted on Eusebio Di Francesco’s squad.
Still, you can’t help but think something is still missing. Something can tie all those disparate parts together, something that can fuse Cristante’s weight in the middle with Kluivert’s energy up front. For several months now (if not an entire year), we’ve operated under the assumption that something was Moroccan playmaker Hakim Ziyech.
Ajax’s 25-year-old midfielder/forward has made the Eredivisie his playground over the past several years, racking up an eye popping 59 goals and 66 assists since the start of the 2013-2014 season. As we’ve mentioned several times over the past year, Hakim the Dream has literally nothing left to prove in the Netherlands, leading to speculation he might jump abroad to test his skills.
In the wake of their fruitless pursuit of Riyad Mahrez last summer, many naturally assumed Ziyech was the next best option, but for a variety of reasons it simply never happened. And while his name popped up in the transfer rags rather early this year, thanks to his World Cup service with Morocco and Monchi’s aforementioned business dealings, Ziyech’s name sort of fell by the wayside, always lurking but never front and center.
Well, if you believe today’s reports, that’s about to change. Calciomercato and Football Italia passed along reports of an early agreement reached between Roma and Ziyech, as well as some damning quotes from current Ajax boss Erik ten Hag.
Per the reports, Ziyech has a five year deal in place with the Giallorossi, one that would pay him €2.5 million per season, while Roma would pay Ajax some €30 million plus bonuses. On his star player, ten Hag seemed resigned to losing him:
I know he already has another deal elsewhere. He’s a big loss. If you love football, you’ll love Hakim Ziyech. Aside from his technical qualities, it’s his footballing intelligence that makes him so strong.
He also has the ability to run a lot: all this makes him a special player. It’s clear that I would’ve liked to keep him at Ajax, I think I could’ve still taught him something.He’s a complete player, but if I have to mention a characteristic in particular, it’s his ability in one-on-ones. Often you can’t get past him. He has raw power.
At 25-years-old Ziyech is just entering his prime, so the best is yet to come. Of course, bringing in Ziyech (at that price point) is no simple matter—where will he play? Is there a corresponding sale lined up?
These are all tough and important questions to ask, but for a team competing on three fronts next year, and presuming they want to succeed on those fronts, he is precisely the type of player you want. His versatility alone gives EDF ample options in attack, while his individual skill can make up for any tactical shortcomings Roma might experience on any given night.
We’re not there yet, but the fates seem to be conspiring to make this move a reality.