Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel faces £36m dilemma as star blows latest audition vs Man City

Manchester City v Chelsea: Match in pictures

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was left frustrated as the Blues title hopes were dealt a major blow in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat against Manchester City. A stunning sole strike from Kevin De Bruyne was enough to condemn the Londoners to defeat and nudge Pep Guardiola’s side closer to a second consecutive Premier League triumph.

The Blues broke records for all the wrong reasons in a blunt first-half display after they failed to register a single shot on goal for the first time since Tuchel took charge last year.

And although they improved after the break, De Bruyne’s stunning solo strike was enough to clinch the points for City; all but ending the Blues’ title hopes in the process.

Although the scoreline was slender, the chasm between the two teams was anything but. It was City who were in the ascendancy throughout against a makeshift Chelsea side.

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More often than not, Hakim Ziyech has flattered to deceive since his mega-money move from Ajax back in the summer of 2020.

He’s had copious chances to win over the Stamford Bridge faithful over the past 18 months, but he’s been unable to make any real type of impression.

And unfortunately for the Moroccan ace, he may have blown his final chance to impress Tuchel after turning in a woeful performance against the champions.

In a game where chances were always likely to come at a premium for the Blues, Ziyech spurned a golden chance by ballooning the ball miles ahead of Romelu Lukaku instead of finding the deft touch that was needed to send the Belgian striker through on goal in the first half.

Given the German’s incredulous reaction, it wasn’t a surprise that Ziyech was the first player to be hauled off after the break by Tuchel.

Lukaku was pretty much ostracised from the action at the Etihad due to the lack of service behind him. To say that the former Inter Milan star was feeding off of scraps would be generous.

Christian Pulisic didn’t exactly cover himself in glory either in Chelsea’s three-pronged attack, but Ziyech was totally anonymous in a game where Tuchel really needed his players to step up in order to keep their title hopes alive.

Ziyech’s £36m price tag may be nowhere near as excessive as the sums that Chelsea have shelled out for some of their other attacking talents, but it’s getting harder and harder to see the 28-year-old justifying that fee.

The fleet-footed attacker has failed to replicate the lethal form he showed in the Eredivisie during his 18 months in the Premier League.

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In the 60 appearances that Ziyech has made for the Blues, he’s managed just 10 goals and seven assists. It’s hard to see him featuring under the Blues ruthless boss in the long run with those modest returns.

Although his returns in front of goal leave a lot to be desired, it’s his tame displays that will be the biggest concern for Tuchel. He did show signs of promise during the Blues’ recent Carabao Cup triumph over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge, but he failed to build on that in Saturday’s crunch clash.

The former Paris Saint-Germain chief has been ruthless in his pursuit of sustained success at Stamford Bridge, and it’s hard to see him persevering with Ziyech for too much longer if he fails to spark his Chelsea career into life – especially given that the likes of Barcelona have been credited with an interest in him, according to recent reports.

It’s hard to see Tuchel or the Stamford Bridge hierarchy putting up too much of a fight to keep Ziyech in London after the attacker let another chance to impress pass him by on Saturday afternoon.

He might not get another one anytime soon.

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