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Hakim Ziyech

'Not even if his name is Messi!' - Ziyech has no chance of Morocco return, says manager Halilhodzic

10:04 am AEDT 4/2/22
Hakim Ziyech Chelsea 2021-22
The attacking midfielder has been labelled undisciplined by his nation's head coach

Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech has no chance of returning to the Morocco men's national team - not even if his name was Lionel Messi - according to head coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

The manager has faced questions about Ziyech's exclusion from the Africa Cup of Nations, where Morocco lost in the quarter-final to Egypt.

But Halilhodzic maintained that Ziyech's behaviour on national team duty "does not fit the selection".

What has been said?

"The players I have selected are the best in the country," Halilhodzic told reporters.

"I don't select a player who can unbalance the group. Not even if his name is Lionel Messi. Ziyech's behaviour does not fit the selection. He doesn't want to train, doesn't want to play. He doesn't take it seriously. I'm not going to beg him to come back.

"After the [Afcon] tournament three years ago, he was the most criticised. He was booed. You mustn't forget that."

The bigger picture

Ziyech has struggled for playing time at Chelsea in his first two seasons since arriving as a prized transfer from Ajax, making just 24 Premier League starts and notching 10 goal involvements.

He's dealt with knee, hip and shoulder injuries, but his form has also left much to be desired at times. However, scored in his last two league appearances, perhaps giving him a platform for a strong second half to the 2021-22 campaign.

The last time Ziyech played for Morocco was last June in a friendly against Burkina Faso - and it appears he may not play again for them anytime soon.

After the Burkina Faso friendly, Halilhodzic said: "His behaviour in the last two matches, especially the last one, was not that of a national team player who, as a leader in the team, must be a positive role model.

“He arrived late and after that, he even refused to work. There was no point in discussing it afterwards, as a coach the answer is right there to see."

In addition to Ziyech, Noussair Mazraoui was also left at home for Afcon by Halilhodzic.

Morocco defeated Malawi 2-1 in the last 16 before their loss to Egypt.

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