Reports from Morocco and Holland, which have subsequently been picked up by the English outlets, suggest that Liverpool are ramping up their interest in Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech, with some going so far as to hint that the Merseyside club have dispatched representatives to Amsterdam to move things along.
Dutch-born but playing for Morocco internationally, and at just 24 years of age, Ziyech has established himself as a pretty significant player for Ajax in just his first year playing for the club. Operating mostly as a technically gifted and elusive attacking midfielder, Ziyech racked up nine goals in the 2016-17 Eredivisie campaign (including two for his former club FC Twente) while also contributing with a couple of scores in Ajax’s Europa League efforts.
Since the brouhaha over Liverpool’s pursuit of Virgil van Dijk earlier in the summer, the club has been fairly tight-lipped about their transfer plans, even when speaking through journalists who are closely associated. Where there have been semi-credible noises, they have thus far come from individuals closer to the players themselves, most notably during the Naby Keïta pursuit.
In Ziyech’s case, the rumors - if there is any substance to them - are almost certainly coming from people close to player himself. From a contractual perspective, Ajax are not under significant pressure to sell a newly-acquired player who has an agreement until 2021. If Liverpool is indeed accelerating discussions with Ajax, and bearing in mind the player’s skill set, the more interesting question is what purpose does Ziyech’s potential acquisition serve?
With Adam Lallana expected to be unavailable for the critical early months of the season, it’s possible that Ziyech is intended to operate as a Lallana-like option. He could also represent a Plan B for Liverpool, now that the Keïta deal is all but buried, though it would be far from a like-for-like alternative. For the more pessimistic among us, the acquisition of an attacking midfielder might be seen as insurance in the event of a Coutinho departure.
As for whether or not the interest is real, it’s too early to tell, but given that it’s almost mid-August, subsequent reports in the next week or so would suggest that there is something there. And then the real questions can be posed.