Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has perfect player to reinvent into another Angel Di Maria
Chelsea: Guardiola welcomes Tuchel to the Premier League
One of Thomas Tuchel’s first tasks as Chelsea boss will be to help the club’s underperforming stars rediscover form, confidence and belief in their own ability. In what proved to be Frank Lampard’s final Premier League game at the helm in the 2-0 defeat at Leicester, Chelsea were merely a shadow of the team Jurgen Klopp prematurely labelled title favourites at the beginning of December.
Tuchel is undoubtedly ready to focus his efforts on reinvigorating Timo Werner and Kai Havertz as he looks to chase down the rest of the top four.
The German duo have struggled to adapt to the physicality of the English game while Werner cannot seem to buy a goal, no matter how hard he tries.
Yet while there is huge focus on the form of Werner and Havertz, Hakim Ziyech has also struggled to build on his impressive start in west London, failing to nail down a place in the starting XI.
The Moroccan’s return from injury in October injected new life into Chelsea, who then embarked on a 17-game unbeaten run. His precision and pinpoint crossing gave Chelsea more balance in the final third after Lampard had experimented with various combinations in attack.
The rotation eventually became an issue though and Ziyech’s sparkling form soon deteriorated. Come the end of Lampard’s reign, he was out of favour and struggling to enjoy his football. The arrival of Tuchel represents a fresh start.
The former PSG can probably hardly believe his luck. It’s been just over a month since he was relieved of his duties in Paris and now he has inherited one of the best squads in Europe.
The appointment of a new manager usually goes hand-in-hand with an upturn in results, as players find new motivation from within after any form of dismissal to prove they were not the problem.
Tuchel has experience handling big characters and a track record for developing players and in the case of Ziyech, the new Chelsea boss could prove to be the perfect fit.
Pound-for-pound, Ziyech may just be the closest thing to Angel Di Maria, a player Tuchel loved to work with.
Di Maria operated from the right of a front three with devastating effect under Tuchel.
There were times where he single-handedly won his side the match, as seen when PSG beat Manchester United 2-0 in the first-leg of their 2019 Champions League last 16 clash.
Ziyech has the quality to decide games himself, something that became a regular occurrence during his time at Ajax.
Tuchel once described working with Di Maria as a gift and having a player of Ziyech’s class at his disposal, will bring further joy to the Chelsea boss following his arrival at Stamford Bridge.
“As I’ve said many times, it’s a gift,” Tuchel said on Di Maria. “He shows his quality and mentality every day, he is super reliable. He is one of the first to arrive at the training centre every day, he is a top professional with a good state of mind.
“With him, you can win because he plays to win and to score. Right now, he is very important to us because he has the quality to finish our attacks and score goals. He has the quality and precision with his strike.”
If Ziyech is prepared to match Di Maria’s work ethic on the training pitch, the attacking midfielder could become a lethal weapon of choice for Tuchel.
His vision and final pass may hold the key to unlocking the best versions of Werner and Havertz, while Christian Pulisic can also benefit from Ziyech.
Di Maria soon became a focal point in Tuchel’s team and towards the end of his PSG tenure, their love-hate relationship became troubled.
Tuchel is a coach that always demands maximum effort and when Di Maria was unable to produce at the level he was capable of, the former PSG boss found it difficult to select him.
“I feel like Angel has lost some things that were easy for him before, but that’s how it is,” Tuchel said, honestly.
Before adding: “I’m never going to stop believing in Angel.”
The phase of the inverted winger has suffered a minor decline but in Ziyech, Tuchel has a separate project worth investing in.
He could now have his very own Di Maria at Chelsea.
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