Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has responded to transfer speculation regarding playmaker Hakim Ziyech, amid reported interest from Barcelona.
With a wealth of attacking options at Tuchel’s disposal, finding a consistent slot in the starting XI has been difficult for the former Ajax man, who had made the switch to Stamford Bridge from Holland last year.
The 28-year-old had caught the eye with a string of stunning displays during his time with the Dutch giants, notably starring in the club’s remarkable surge to the Champions League semi-final’s in the 2018/19 season, although has failed to replicate that form in west London.
That difficult start to life in England has sparked rumours that he could be set for an exit, with a move to the Nou Camp having been mooted in recent weeks, the Catalan giants looking to bolster their attacking threat following a disappointing start to the campaign.
Ahead of Saturday’s clash with Leicester City, however, Tuchel has insisted that such speculation has been ‘made up’ – the forward still a key player for the Blues, having also struggled with injury at the start of the season.
“It’s very easy,” Tuchel said at his pre-match press conference. “I said many times he was brilliant in pre-season. He had an injury which was a huge setback. He played after the shoulder injury with pain and with huge protection which kept him from being totally free, which is necessary for his game and movements and position and style of play.
“Now he’s stepped up in the last games. We had some injuries and he took the chance to have more game time like Callum [Hudson-Odoi] did. He was decisive. He assisted, he scored, it’s good.
“At the moment here in Cobham there are no thoughts about his future. There are no thoughts about a potential change, swap deal or whatever in winter. I have talked to nobody about that here in Cobham, so that’s made up from media.
“Hakim was not in my office expressing a wish like this so right now, he is a full member of the squad. He is an important guy, a very talented guy, a very ambitious guy, and he’s a full part of our squad. He was last season, he is this season and we expect the very best of him all the time.
“But it’s tough competition. I cannot let everybody play all the time 90 minutes. It’s simply impossible.”