Speaking on the Sky Sports Transfer Window podcast recently, Dutch journalist Marcel van der Kraan revealed that Ajax star Hakim Ziyech would be open to a move to Arsenal.
The Moroccan international is available for just £25m this summer due to a release clause in his contract, but as things stand, it appears he could be off to Germany, Italy or Spain:
“I know that the player is keen on a club like Arsenal, who have always played good football. I think that if Arsenal did not have Mesut Ozil, they would have been the perfect club for him. But now, he has to choose between clubs in the Bundesliga, two or three clubs.”
“In Serie A, Roma have come back in for him after going for him last summer, while there are also one or two clubs in Spain who want him.”
Ziyech was a key player as Ajax won the Eredivisie title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. He scored 21 goals and provided 24 assists in 49 appearances from the right-wing last season.
The Gunners have been linked with Ryan Fraser, who could cost £30m according to reports, and the fact that the club are not going all out to secure a proven player on the European stage, who is available for £5m less, does leave you scratching your head.
Of course, they are not stylistically that similar. Ziyech isn’t the quickest player in the world, but does have great feet, and has a great eye for a pass.
The Moroccan ace is superb at putting in through balls for his teammates, but he is also an adept finisher, with a penchant for shooting from long range.
If Arsenal are able to offload Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the club could recruit both the Ajax wide man and another pacier winger. That additional creativity out wide, combined with the lethal finishing up front could be a perfect combination.
From the outside looking in, it does seem an absolute no-brainer but it appears that, once again, the major issue may be the limited transfer funds at the club’s disposal.
Justifiably, it seems the club’s priority is bringing in a central defender this summer. Saint-Etienne’s William Saliba looks to be the prime candidate but at €30m (£26.7m), he won’t come cheap despite being just 18 years of age.
If you had to push me on which one I would rather sign, I’d probably go for Saliba as well, considering how urgent the need is to recruit better centre-backs. It’s an area that must be improved at all costs before the start of next season
Even so, losing out on a quality player like Ziyech when he is available for such a reasonable price, feels like a missed opportunity. If he starts ripping up the Bundesliga, La Liga or Serie A next season, the club could live to regret missing out.