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Newcastle: Hakim Ziyech deal “one to watch”

Newcastle United could still be in the running to sign Chelsea playmaker Hakim Ziyech, with the Moroccan facing an uncertain future at Stamford Bridge.

What’s the word?

According to journalist Ben Jacobs, who was speaking on The Done Deal Show, the Magpies’ potential interest in the 29-year-old is “one to watch” in the remaining weeks of the transfer window, with the former Ajax man seemingly set to leave the Blues this summer.

The transfer insider stated: “I know that Newcastle United like the player as well, and that’s one to watch even though they’ve actually been more linked with Timo Werner, who I think will want, and is pushing for, that loan move back to Leipzig.”

The 40-cap gem – who arrived in west London on a £33.3m deal two years ago – is said to be available for as little as £8m, with Serie A champions AC Milan also believed to be in the running.

Howe’s own Mahrez

Having thus far been left frustrated by the club’s lack of attacking signings, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe would undoubtedly be ecstatic if were he to land such a talented figure for what would represent a total bargain.

Although it has failed to work out for the £100k-per-week Moroccan during his time in the Premier League thus far – with just six goals and six assists in 46 league games – that is perhaps been influenced by Thomas Tuchel’s unwillingness to hand him a consistent run in the team, with Ziyech having made just 14 top-flight starts last term.

Prior to joining his current club, the £25.2m-rated forward had dazzled during his time in Amsterdam, racking up an immense tally of 49 goals and 80 assists in 164 games in all competitions for the Eredivisie giants.

The fleet-footed “genius” – as dubbed by journalist Nizaar Kinsella – notably recorded a staggering haul of 21 goals and 24 assists in all competitions during the 2018/19 campaign, during which Erik ten Hag’s side surged to the Champions League semi-finals.

Such figures represent just how immense a talent the 5 foot 11 man is, with his form in recent years not seemingly a true indication of his quality.

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Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson celebrates with Joelinton

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Equally, any doubts among those at St James’ Park about Ziyech’s ability to make the grade in the Premier League should also be tempered by him earning comparisons to Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez from Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville in January.

The Manchester United legend stated of the 29-year-old: “He has got that Mahrez feel about him, with a dip of the left shoulder and a lovely left foot”.

That is high praise considering the impact that the Algerian has made in English football in recent times, notably winning the PFA Player of the Year award as Leicester City secured a remarkable title triumph in 2016, while he has since won further major honours during his time at the Etihad Stadium.

Since joining Pep Guardiola’s side in January 2018, the 31-year-old has scored 63 goals and provided 45 assists in 189 games in all competitions, with the most recent campaign seeing him finish as City’s top scorer with 24 goals across all fronts.

Ziyech seemingly has the quality, as outlined by Neville, to make a similar impact to that of Mahrez in England, with the Chelsea ace simply needing a more prominent, regular role to showcase that talent – something that Newcastle can no doubt offer to him given their ongoing search for a new forward.