His former club manager van Basten had been one of those, lambasting both him and fellow Dutch-Moroccan Oussama Tannane for choosing Morocco.
“Hakim Ziyech and Oussama Tannane are idiots,” stormed the former Dutch playing icon to De Telegraaf in March 2016.
“How can you be so stupid to choose Morocco if the Dutch national side are clearly interested in you.”
Chelsea’s gain, Arsenal’s loss
The change in his behaviour off the pitch reaped benefits on the field for Ajax.
He shone last season in which he scored 21 goals and provided 24 assists as Ajax won a domestic double and came within sight of the Champions League final only to be denied by Tottenham’s extraordinary late second leg comeback.
Indeed Ajax director of football Marc Overmars recommended Ziyech to his former club Arsenal last summer seeing him as a viable alternative to the inconsistent Mesut Ozil.
“I believe Hakim Ziyech is better than Mesut Ozil,” Overmars told AD.
“I would advise Arsenal to sell Ozil and buy Ziyech for half of the money, but they didn’t listen to me.”