Thomas Tuchel has backed Hakim Ziyech to play a vital creative role at Chelsea this term.
The Blues boss has hailed Ziyech’s pre-season form, tipping the Morocco forward to regain that level in a flash once past his recent shoulder problem.
Ziyech could even be fit to feature in Sunday’s Premier League trip to Arsenal, having returned to training this week.
The 28-year-old had been linked with a loan move away from Stamford Bridge, but Tuchel insists the former Ajax star’s best days are still ahead of him in west London.
Assist king Ziyech’s ability to tee up goals could prove perfect for £98million new hitman Romelu Lukaku, with Tuchel excited by the prospect of the two men working in tandem.
“Any partnership could be very promising when Hakim plays on his high level,” said Tuchel.
“I think Hakim was very promising in pre-season. He had some very good matches last season also some difficulties and hard decisions from me to take.
“But the pre-season was very promising and pretty impressive from him. The attitude with which he arrived here was absolutely the right attitude to grow and to show personality, and this is what he did.
“He was fantastic from day one. He was decisive in every single friendly game we played and he was decisive in the first competitive game, in the final against Villarreal.”
Ziyech’s neat finish put Chelsea in the early driving seat with a 1-0 lead in the UEFA Super Cup against Villarreal, before he trudged out of action having fallen awkwardly on his shoulder.
The wily winger has hit top creative form after a productive pre-season, and Tuchel is determined to coax the best out of one of the continent’s most inventive players.
“Very, very unfortunately he got injured so now we need to take care of it,” said Tuchel.
“Because on one side we are very happy that he’s back on the pitch, on the other a shoulder injury can be a bit tricky.
“The good thing is with a shoulder injury you can still run and you can still keep your fitness, so you don’t lose too much of that. And yes, he’ll have many training sessions in his legs.
“And from then on, once he gives the green light and feels totally free, hopefully he can find his performance level from this season very, very quickly. Because that can be very important for us.”