Premier League side Chelsea have agreed a deal in principle with Ajax Amsterdam to sign Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech for $49.29 million in the close season, British media reported on Wednesday.
Chelsea, who successfully appealed a one-year transfer ban, did not sign any recruits in January but the The BBC and The Guardian reported Ziyech was a potential target before they were rebuffed by the Eredivisie side, who did not sanction a mid-season sale.
Ziyech, who helped Ajax win the league and Dutch Cup double last season, has seen his stock rise further in this campaign with eight goals and 18 assists in the league and Champions League.
Chelsea could be short of options on the wing next season with the contracts of veteran wingers Pedro and Willian set to expire at the end of this campaign.
The reports claimed Blues boss Frank Lampard ordered the club’s hierarchy to strike a deal for Ziyech this summer.
Chelsea landing Ziyech could depend on whether they can secure Champions League football for next season.
They are still in this season’s competition — where they next face Bayern Munich in the round of 16 — but finishing in the top four of the Premier League seems their most likely route.
Chelsea are only two points ahead of Sheffield United in fourth meaning the door is still open for other European clubs to match their offer.
Ziyech was placed among Uefa’s top 20 performers in last season’s Champions League which saw Ajax reach the semi-finals before being knocked out by Tottenham in a thrilling tie.
This term, Ziyech faced Chelsea twice in the group stage — Chelsea winning 1-0 at the Amsterdam ArenA before the two sides played out a thrilling 4-4 draw in London.