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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Hakim Ziyech solves Chelsea's Lautaro Martinez transfer puzzle to answer Thomas Tuchel question

Hakim Ziyech could be key to Thomas Tuchel finally unlocking Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea. The 28-year striker, who returned to west London in...

Hakim Ziyech could be key to Thomas Tuchel finally unlocking Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea. The 28-year striker, who returned to west London in the summer, has often looked as if he needs a right-hand man, on and off the pitch. Lukaku enjoyed a fruit-bearing two-year spell.

alongside former strike partner Lautaro Martinez at Inter Milan, directly combining on 19 occasions in 78 appearances. The duo guided Antonio Conte's side to the club's first Scudetto in eleven years, breaking Juventus' nine years of dominance.

Despite his success in Italy, the Blues' £97.5m striker is yet to have warranted his eye-watering price tag since returning to English soil. But Ziyech could be the key that opens Lukaku's goalscoring flood gates. The duo was spotted watching an NBA match between the Brooklyn Nets and their opponents Utah Jazz.

Ziyech and Lukaku's bond looks to have blossomed since their altercation against Brighton earlier in the season. With the former's form on the rise and the latter's — seemingly — on the descent, Tuchel's Moroccan magician could be the one to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

The west London side's number 22 could look to undertake a facilitator role — similar to Martinez — alongside Lukaku, shortening the gap between creator and finisher. Tuchel's creative sparks have often struggled to operate inside the striker's radius, missing out on second balls and interplay that can snap Lukaku into action.

Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard have been experts in this field for Roberto Martinez's Belgium. Ziyech understands the assignment on the table but has asserted that Chelsea must do more to accommodate the number nine. The retired Morocco international has previously hit out at criticism of Lukaku, insisting that the striker has nothing to prove.

Ziyech said the Blues need to find a way to facilitate the Belgian, who has looked a shadow of himself since swapping the San Siro for Stamford bridge.

"He has shown it for years," said the Moroccan. "There is no question of his quality. He came here, and in the beginning, it was all good. Then he came back from injury. He caught Covid.

"Is there any question about his quality or whatever? He showed it for the last few years. It is just a matter of time. If you look at some teams, we are playing against, and they play in a back five."

Ziyech added by commenting on how the opposition has influenced Chelsea's inability to ignite Lukaku's flame, hinting that a formation change could unlock more space for the talisman. Lukaku flourished in a front-two alongside Martinez at Inter.

"He is by himself against three defenders. Is that not hard? It doesn't matter who you are. If you have three defenders, of course, it is hard to find your space," he said. "He makes an action against one, but the other one is coming as well. He also needs his space for his runs.

"It is really difficult at a time when we play football right now. It is hard. I think everybody in the squad (can help him), not only me. "We have to put everybody in (a position to show) his own qualities, and I think that is something we have to work and we still work on. I think there is still a lot of space to improve."

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