Erik ten Hag insists Hakim Ziyech must ‘play every week’ after a brief reunion with the Chelsea star on Thursday night. At full-time, ten Hag approached the winger who he managed during his time at Ajax with the two sharing a few words and hugging as they left the pitch together. The Morocco international also swapped shirts with United full-back Tyrell Malacia before heading down the tunnel. Asked about his conversation with Ziyech, ten Hag later told Viaplay: ‘That is between Hakim and me. We have experienced a lot together, beautiful things. There is a bond for life.’ Ziyech was part of the thrilling Ajax side managed by ten Hag that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League during the 2018-19 season, winning the Eredivisie the same year. In 2020, he joined Chelsea but has struggled to replicate his previous form in west London, limited to just nine starts for the Blues this season in what has been a tumultuous campaign for the club. The 30-year-old was on the brink of joining Paris Saint-Germain during the January transfer window only for the move to collapse at the last minute.
Ten Hag was interested in signing Ziyech for United during last summer’s transfer window. The Dutchman reportedly made the winger a priority signing as the club initially struggled to agree a fee with Ajax for Antony, who would later join the club in an £85million deal. His efforts to bring the Chelsea star to Manchester were blocked by the board, however. Ten Hag insisted his former player must be at a club where he is a first-team regular, saying: ‘He has to play every week. A footballer like that, in the prime of his life, must be on the pitch.’