Hakim Ziyech the ideal magician to solve Bayern Munich's attack
Background image: Richard Bartz, CC BY 2.5
Munich was the place to be on Saturday night. Bayern won their seventh Bundesliga title on the trot, capping off a troublesome season on a high note. An emotional farewell to club legends Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, dubbed "Robbery" made it extra-special. Amidst the euphoria, Niko Kovac must've been planning ahead. Despite another league win his job security didn't receive the boost it should...
The Croatian was somewhat unlucky in his first season. Injury problems to key players didn't help. Nor did some squad members not respecting his methods. He managed to improve some youngsters while also reigniting old flames. However, changes are required. One way to guarantee success is mounting on versatility. Thomas Muller, David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich embody the spirit the Bavarians are used to. To grant special attacking flair, Kovac would opt for another dynamic presence leading his attack.
Enter, Hakim Ziyech. Having fulfilled his duties at Ajax, The Moroccan magician is ready to take the next step forward. He has suitors from European heavyweights galore, but will ponder a move most beneficial to himself. After a wondrous season with the Dutch champions, he’ll crave for a system which revolves around his strengths.
Bayern lack quality down the middle. Ziyech wants to join a big club. They’re almost a romance waiting to happen if all the right cards are played. Under the Bavarians' revolving structure and the Bundesliga’s free-flowing intensity, the Moroccan can soar. Bayern's philosophy isn’t quite “total-football”. But they do follow a free-flowing style which relies on the attackers operating smoothly in multiple areas.
Despite stumbling occasionally under Kovac’s system, the attacking structure almost guarantees success. If Robbery’s farewell match proved anything, the Bavarians now emphasise on the artistic way in building up goals. Kingsley Coman or Serge Gnabry's inspired seasons proved they can fill their shoes easily. Ziyech can, therefore, pull the strings from the middle, something he relishes.
The freedom of expressing yourself is always refreshing. Like at Ajax, where with minimal expectations, Ziyech netted 19 strikes while assisting 13 in all competitions. He’ll only improve with the luxury surrounding him at Munich. The 26-year-old's versatility grants him the ability to increase the unpredictability in Bayern's attack.
He can’t replicate the iconic cut-in long-range curlers Robben made famous. Yet one can argue he's much more dynamic as an attacker. Ziyech loves to dribble down the wings but comes into his own through the middle. An excellent finisher with a lethal strike, his mindset matches with the club's ruthlessness. Like the new-generational talent, he's also extremely hardworking and capable of tracking back well. Kovac will appreciate the effort.
As displayed against Real Madrid or Tottenham Hotspur, the Moroccan winger is intelligent when it comes to decision-making. He takes his time into predicting the defenders’ movement, making inch-perfect through-balls to send oppositions into a frenzy. Ziyech is patient with his build-up but lethal with his productivity. Not only can he threaten down the wing, but also be used as Bayern's creative lynchpin.
Moreover, his inclusion will add more depth to the German champions. They already boast Muller, Kimmich and Alaba who can operate in almost six different positions. Ziyech's ability down the wings or centrally will expand it to potentially eight roles covered by four core players. Bayern has always valued industrial, hard-working players. A stringent system ensures no need to make rash decisions on replacing failing players every season. Like Manchester City, who have Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva operating in different attacking roles, Ziyech can be a similar inspirational figure.
The 26-year-old will also positively influence the attackers. Youngsters Gnabry or Coman can be more expressive in taking their chances in the final third. Robert Lewandowski could be fed with more goal-scoring chances thanks to his excellent vision. Ziyech can run the show from wherever he opts to. He's more than capable of bringing back swagger in their game, helping not only continuing their dominance in Germany but also regaining their reputation as UEFA Champions League contenders.