Frank Lampard believes a fully firing Hakim Ziyech can help deliver the extra attacking dimension so craved at Chelsea.
Morocco forward Ziyech is in line for his Premier League debut in Saturday’s Stamford Bridge clash with Southampton, having finally shaken off his knee complaint.
The 27-year-old’s summer transfer from Ajax was announced back in February, and Ziyech made a promising debut in the 1-1 friendly draw at Brighton in August.
Ziyech’s last competitive club match was back in March for Ajax, leaving Blues boss Lampard still keen to ease the creative winger back towards full match fitness.
Asked if adding a match-sharp Ziyech can take the new-look Chelsea to another level, Lampard replied: “Yeah, and I think there’s a combination of things.
“If you’re bringing in players, you’re always looking to build relationships all over the pitch whether it be full backs and wingers, strikers and people playing behind them.
“Those things can only be worked on. When we didn’t have a lot of these players fit or ready, the ones we brought in.
“Now we’re seeing they are starting to get fit and with time on the training ground, relationships on and off the pitch can grow.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re not the end product. Other teams have shown in the last two or three years how long and the work it takes to become one of the top teams in the world and we have to do it in our own way.
“We’re at the start of that journey in a lot of ways. We’re working and it continues all the time to improve. Hakim is in the squad for Saturday, he’s not fit to start but is fit to participate for some minutes we hope.
“We brought Hakim here, and that feels like a long time ago now, but he also hasn’t played since the Dutch league finished during lockdown.
“It’s a long time and he’s worked so hard, he’s been fantastic in terms of his professionalism to get fit, and he looks really good in training.
“I’ve got a really open relationship with him to know where he’s at, and how I feel about it. So it’s just game minutes that he needs now.
“But of course, I’m excited to get him in and around it, to bring what we brought him to the club for.
“Which is the opportunity to create chances for us, to be the talented player that he is and we saw at Ajax. And I look forward to seeing him play.”
Edouard Mendy will miss Saturday’s Saints clash, due to a thigh problem suffered on international duty.
Ben Chilwell is available though after further trouble with his heel, with Christian Pulisic also in the squad.
Tammy Abraham and full-back Chilwell were disciplined by England after breaching Covid-19 guidelines at a party, along with international team-mate Jadon Sancho.
Lampard insisted he has warned the Chelsea duo there can be no repeat of that “innocent” mistake.
“We’ve lived in this bubble for quite a long time now, and we have to make sure we stay on point with that at the training ground,” said Lampard.
“The players also have a responsibility, as do the public, to follow the rules that we are being told, albeit there isn’t always massive clarity in them, but that’s not an excuse for the lads.
“They’ve made mistakes, I’ve reminded them of their responsibilities.
“And from the conversation I’ve had with them, they were innocent mistakes, but they understood their mistakes.
“But we move on, and I hope and I expect that it won’t happen again.”
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