LONDON • Hakim Ziyech, signed for £33.3 million (S$58.3 million) from Ajax, has yet to play a game for Chelsea as a knee injury ruled him out of the start of the season.
The 27-year-old is getting closer to making his bow for the Blues, and Frank Lampard expressed his optimism yesterday as he is eager to see how the forward can link up with the team’s attack.
“It feels like a long time since we brought him here,” the Chelsea boss said of Ziyech, who was signed in February but joined the squad only in July.
“He’s worked hard to get fit. He looks good in training. It’s just game minutes that we need now.”
Ziyech “will get some minutes we hope”, Lampard added.
Chelsea host Southampton in the Premier League today, following an unconvincing run of two wins, a draw and a loss in their first four league matches.
New signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz failed to score in any of those fixtures, and Ziyech’s creativity is seen as a key to getting the best out of the German duo, at the same time providing balance to Christian Pulisic on the left.
“We’re looking to build relationships all over the pitch,” Lampard added. “Those things can only be worked on. We’re seeing players we got in are getting fit. We’ve a lot of work to do. Not the end product. There are teams that have shown how long it takes to be a top team. We’re at the start of that journey. The work has begun but it continues.”
He confirmed that goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is still unfit, while Thiago Silva will not be in the squad after playing for Brazil in World Cup qualifiers.
For Southampton, Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Djenepo will miss the trip but manager Ralph Hasenhuettl sees this as an opportunity to hand deadline-day signing Theo Walcott his debut.
Everton loanee Walcott, 31, has returned to his boyhood club on a season-long deal.
CHELSEA V SOUTHAMPTON
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