Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea: Ajax manager Erik ten Hag 'expected it to happen one or two years earlier'

Moroccan winger on the verge of sealing a £40m move to the Premier League club

Ajax's Hakim Ziyech fail to score as Valencia's Jose Luis Gaya stretches to block the shot during the group H Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Valencia at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has confirmed Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech is closing in on a move to Premier League club Chelsea following media reports that the two clubs had agreed a £40 million (Dh191m) transfer fee.

Chelsea were reportedly keen to sign the 26-year-old winger in January after Fifa lifted their transfer ban, but Ajax were not prepared to let one of their best players leave in the middle of the season.

It is understood the two clubs then continued negotiations after the January 31 deadline in the hopes of securing a deal that would see Ziyech switch to Stamford Bridge in the summer.

While the move is yet to be confirmed by either club, Ajax manager Ten Hag has strongly suggested it is imminent, and admitted his surprise that the club managed to keep hold for Ziyech as long as they have.

"Ziyech to Chelsea? A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen," Ten Hag told Fox Sports. "And I actually already expected this one or two years earlier. And each time it was: 'Wow, he stayed again'.

"We are just happy that we will still have him until the end of the season."

Ziyech joined Ajax from fellow Dutch side FC Twente in 2016 for a reported transfer fee of €11m (Dh44m) and has proved a huge success for the Amsterdam giants. He has assisted more than 20 goals in each of the last three seasons, and has created 21 assists for Ajax teammates already this term. Ziyech was a vital part of the Ajax team that won the domestic double last season and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The arrival of Ziyech, who looks set to be Chelsea manager Frank Lampard's first signing since taking over as manager last summer, looks likely to spell the end of Pedro's Stamford Bridge career, with the veteran Spanish winger out of contract at the end of the season.