Despite heavy interest from Bayern Munich this summer, Moroccan international Hakim Ziyech has extended his contract with Ajax, keeping him at the club until at least 2022. The 26-year-old midfielder was one of the top names on Bayern’s transfer wish list, especially after the prospective deal for Manchester City’s Leroy Sané was significantly complicated after he sustained an ACL injury in the Community Shield match against Liverpool.
Per a new report by Dutch outlet Algemeen Dagbald (via SportBild), Ziyech explained why he decided to stay and with Ajax instead of moving to Bayern. The timing, he felt, was right for him to commit his future to Ajax despite the interest from Bayern:
Yes, I could have done that [i.e. waited for a deal with Bayern]. But for me and Ajax, it was a good moment to obtain clarity.
Ajax has already lost Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona and Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus. It makes sense that they would do anything in their power to keep a hold of the rest of their top talents, like Ziyech.
The report also confirmed that Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic had met with Ziyech’s representatives at least once over the summer to discuss a potential transfer, but nothing more than that. It is possible that the Moroccan was put off by the fact that Bayern was not as forward and assertive in its efforts to sign him, making him feel rather like an after thought.
Ziyech had an amazing season with Ajax en route to their run into the Champions League semifinals and an Eredivisie title, scoring 21 goals and providing 24 assists across competitions. He expected a stronger advance from Bayern if they were interested:
Indeed. I think anyone could see what we achieved with Ajax. And what I contributed to it. But when the club with which I have the perfect feeling doesn’t come, then no. Then I’d rather stay at Ajax. A transfer was never a must.
Ziyech’s current valuation via transfermarkt is €40m, so it’s likely that Ajax’s asking price would have hovered around that amount if Bayern had shown more aggressive interest. The price may have been a little steep, but the timing for Bayern was unfortunate, given the fact that confirmation of Sané’s injury arrived only days apart from Ajax’s official announcement of Ziyech’s contract extension.
What does everyone think? Was this a significant missed opportunity for Bayern, or did the timing of everything make it a lost cause anyway?