Frank Lampard has revealed that Chelsea tried to complete a deal for Hakim Ziyech in January.
The 26-year-old is set to join the Blues at the end of the season after the club agreed a £37million deal with Ajax.
Lampard admitted that he attempted to bring the Moroccan to Stamford Bridge last month, only to be unsuccessful because the Dutch club did not want to part company with the winger until the summer.
“We tried and it was not possible,” the Blues boss told Sky Sports (via the Evening Standard). “We all know how the January window works.
“You respect clubs that have top players want to keep them and that was the case. But that is done and we have him for next season. Pleased with that.
“This season, we’ve come up against him twice so I know a lot about him,” added Lampard. “He has a great left foot, plays generally off the right-hand side but can play in behind the frontman as well.
“When you look at us this season, there have been games where we’ve maybe struggled to unlock the door and he’s certainly a player who we hope can bring that bit of creativity.
“He will be something different for us so we’re excited. I know he’s not coming in now but I think it’s exciting for us as a club and for the fans to know that he’ll be here next year.”
Ziyech is Chelsea’s first signing since their transfer ban was lifted as Lampard looks to put his own mark on his squad.
He has featured 18 times in the Eredivisie this season, scoring six goals and providing 13 assists, and impressed during his side’s 4-4 draw against the Blues earlier this season.
After failing to bring in any new faces in January, Chelsea are expected to be busy during the summer and Lampard indicated that he will look to strengthen his squad even further.
When asked if Ziyech would be the first of a number of new faces, he added: “We have to worry first about where we are at and trying to come in the top four is the massive priority for us.
“My main concern is that. We are always on the lookout and working together to try and see how we can improve.
“I think those improvements are needed in the summer but we have to make sure we get the right ones.”
Fourth-placed Chelsea continue their bid to secure Champions League football next season when they host Manchester United in the Premier League on Monday.