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Hakim Ziyech

Chelsea get Ziyech boost as winger is left out of Morocco squad for AFCON

13:02 WAT 23/12/2021
Hakim Ziyech Chelsea Malmo Champions League 02112021
The Blues will not be losing the forward to international competition in January following a falling out with the manager

Chelsea will not lose Hakim Ziyech to the Africa Cup of Nations in early 2022 as an ongoing feud between player and international coach has led to the winger being left out of Morocco’s squad.

The Blues have found themselves short on numbers at times during recent Covid-19 outbreaks and faced being left further shorthanded next month.

Thomas Tuchel’s side are chasing down honours on multiple fronts, and have been boosted by the news Ziyech will be available.

Why has Ziyech been left out?

The 28-year-old forward has 40 caps and 17 goals for Morocco, but he has fallen out of favour under current head coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

The Bosnian revealed in September, when first snubbing Ziyech, that his patience with the star had been pushed beyond breaking point.

He told reporters: “For the first time in my coaching career, I saw a national team player who doesn’t want to train and claims to be injured, although tests have shown he can play.

“I won’t tolerate it. Not this behaviour as long as I coach Morocco."

Ziyech responded by posting on Instagram: “Next time when you speak SPEAK THE TRUTH THEN...!”

Halilhodzic refused to back down and said in a subsequent international break that he wished he had dropped Ziyech sooner.

He added: “We tried to talk to him, but you have to draw the line somewhere. It's sad, it's a mess, but also a shame.”

The bigger picture

While Ziyech has been left out of Morocco’s squad, Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi is included.

The Atlas Lions are due to face Ghana in their AFCON opener on January 10, before facing Comoros and Gabon in their other Group C fixtures.

Chelsea will be represented elsewhere in the competition, with first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy expected to be selected by Senegal.

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