Hakim Ziyech believes he can still become an integral player for Chelsea despite struggling to find consistency since his move to west London.
The Morocco international grabbed the only goal of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Malmo to earn the holders a 1-0 win in Sweden.
It was Ziyech’s second goal of the campaign and first since he sustained a shoulder injury in the UEFA Super Cup against Villarreal in August. Injuries have blighted his time at Stamford Bridge so far, but the 28-year-old has not lost belief.
“Yeah, I am trying to be important for the team, with goals and assists,” the former Ajax attacker insisted.
“I have had some hard times behind me, the injuries, and I didn’t really recover fully from it. I work every day on it, even when it is not going as it is supposed to go, but I have always believed in myself.
“I have always believed in what I can do on the pitch, I am still believing and trying to do that.”
Ziyech impressed during pre-season before the shoulder injury stunted his progress, even though he returned early from the issue.
It was a similar story during his debut campaign at Chelsea, where problems with his knee and hip interrupted his momentum, while for the second half of the season he was largely used on a rotation basis.
After being an unused substitute in the Champions League Final, Ziyech is positive there is a lot more to come from him.
“I know what I can do and where my highest level is,” he said.
“I had some hard times with injuries and stuff, and finding my rhythm again. I never been able to get in the rhythm again, but that is something you have to work for and work hard for. That is what I am doing every day, to try to find that rhythm again.”
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is hopeful Ziyech’s goal in the Group H fixture could be the catalyst for the winger to rediscover his best form.
If selected for Saturday’s Premier League match with Burnley, it will be the Moroccan’s 50th appearance for the Blues, but he has only scored eight times since a switch in the summer of 2020.
“Still I think there is space to improve for Hakim in decision-making, connections on the pitch and where to be more consistent,” Tuchel admitted.
“We always rely on his work rate, counter-pressing, awareness and this is a huge part of his performances.
“With the ball he can still be more clinical and maybe grow more into our rhythm, but I think the injury in his shoulder cost him a lot.
“Even if he pushed hard to come back early, early, early he is not still 100 per cent free as he should be, especially the offensive players love their freedom and turning in their movement.
“I am happy that if things get stuck sometimes, a goal like this will help the most, so I am happy for him.”