Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech has said he is feeling ‘sharp’ following Tuesday night’s pre-season friendly win over Bournemouth, which is a significant boost for the Morocco international after he struggled for match fitness during his debut campaign with the Blues.
Ziyech missed the start of last season because of a knee injury and also missed games later in the campaign because of a hip problem. He started just 15 times in the Premier League and was always playing catch-up because of the nature of his transfer from Ajax amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ziyech’s move to Chelsea was confirmed in February 2020, but the abandonment of the Dutch season soon afterwards and the delayed extension of the English season ensured that he was left unable to play for several months prior to completing his summer switch to Stamford Bridge.
He was honest about his fitness struggles during an interview in April, admitting that he was playing catch-up on his teammates from the very start.
“Before I came, I had been out for seven months mostly. I came here and started with injuries, so for me it was more that I was already behind everybody physically,” Ziyech explained at the time.
He has since been linked with a move away from Chelsea, but an injury-free end to last season, an uninterrupted summer break and a proper pre-season have been important steps forward, leaving him feeling good ahead of the new campaign.
“I feel sharp and I’m looking forward to the next game,” Ziyech told Chelsea TV after facing Bournemouth in a friendly this week. “I think the days off that we had were good for us, everyone is looking fresh and you saw that on the pitch because everyone looked hungry out there.
“Results don’t matter so much at this stage, but of course it’s always nice for the confidence. The most important thing is getting the rhythm back, working on our fitness and getting some minutes into our legs.”