The Hard Tackle takes a closer look into the future of Real Madrid’s Achraf Hakimi, with his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund set to expire in the summer.
Achraf Hakimi has emerged as one of the rising stars in European football this season. The Real Madrid right-back, who is currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund, is enjoying a breakout campaign in the Bundesliga, having been one of the most productive players in the league.
Hakimi has made 30 Bundesliga appearances so far, scoring five goals and providing ten assists. His contributions have boosted Dortmund’s title challenge, although the Black and Yellows are once again set to miss out on the ultimate prize to rivals Bayern Munich.
Nevertheless, Hakimi’s rise to prominence have unsurprisingly attracted the interest of a host of clubs across Europe. While Real Madrid are determined to bring him back to Santiago Bernabeu, Dortmund are pushing to retain his services on a permanent basis.
Even other clubs have started enquiring about Hakimi, including Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will look into the potential prospects for the Moroccan international this summer as he faces a key decision ahead.
How could the future look at Bernabeu?
Real Madrid haven’t had the best of seasons under Zinedine Zidane this campaign. Although they are trailing FC Barcelona by just two points at the top of La Liga table, the Spanish giants have shown several weaknesses throughout the campaign.
Especially in the right-back department, Real Madrid lack reliable options. Rising sensation Alvaro Odriozola was shipped out to Bayern Munich on loan in January after failing to make an impact in the first-team. The Spaniard hasn’t exactly enjoyed a successful time in Bavaria either, trailing behind Benjamin Pavard.
As a result, Dani Carvajal is currently the only reliable option for Zidane at the moment. But even then, the 28-year-old has suffered from fitness problems throughout his career. And although Odriozola is expected to return in the summer, Hakimi has an excellent chance of becoming a first-team regular for Los Blancos next season.
In fact, the Moroccan international is by far the best option for Zidane in the upcoming campaign, thanks to his pace, productivity and tactical understanding.
Indeed, the 21-year-old can be an excellent fit in Zidane’s 4-3-3 shape, offering offensive support to the front three. He is capable of building passing triangles and could thus ease Real Madrid’s transition play as well as boost the creativity in the build-up phases.
However, what makes Hakimi such an appealing option for Zidane is his versatility. The fact that the right-back has the ability to operate anywhere across the entire right flank means that the Frenchman can deploy both Carvajal and Hakimi in the same line-up, thus offering much more defensive quality as well as creative prowess.
It could also help Zidane implement the left-sided overload since Ferland Mendy is a better attacking outlet than Carvajal. And with Hakimi operating as a right-winger, it can certainly make a difference. Hence, there is no doubt why a return to Santiago Bernabeu is the most likely option for the Moroccan international this summer.
What about a prolonged stay at Dortmund?
While a return to the Bernabeu is certainly appealing, a prolonged stay at Borussia Dortmund may seem like a safer option for Hakimi. He has already established himself in Lucien Favre’s tactical setup and is also one of the fan-favourites at the Signal Iduna Park.
In fairness, however, staying at Dortmund is not the most logical option, at least from a sporting perspective. The Black and Yellows are most likely to settle for a new manager this summer, which means Hakimi will once again have to integrate a new tactical identity.
In addition, the potential departure of Jadon Sancho, who is courted by a host of top clubs across Europe, is sure to affect the defender’s productivity in the final third. The English international’s smart movements were indeed crucial in offering Hakimi the extra space to work with.
But more importantly, Dortmund are not yet in a position to challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga. The gulf of the qualitative difference between the two teams have time and time been highlighted in Der Klassiker fixtures. And that means Hakimi is unlikely to get his hands on trophies anytime soon.
The third option: A switch to the Premier League
As iterated earlier, Hakimi has been courted by two Premier League teams this season. And a potential move to England could serve as a third and perhaps the wild card option for the right-back, as he seeks to take the right step.
Tottenham Hotspur, in particular, are in desperate need of a right-back following the departure of Kieran Trippier last summer. Serge Aurier has not exactly been able to provide the goods, while and Kyle Walker-Peters was loaned out in January, leaving Jose Mourinho in search of a new right-back in the market.
Hakimi, in that regard, should have no difficulties getting regular game-time at Spurs. At the same time, however, it is fair to argue that the Moroccan star might not find it comfortable to settle into the defence-oriented tactical setup of the Portuguese mastermind.
Another option is Chelsea, who are keen on signing a new right-back as Cesar Azpilicueta nears the final stage of his career. Youngster Reece James has shown promising signs in the ongoing campaign.
But, someone as talented and experienced as Hakimi should ideally add more quality to a Chelsea backline that has conceded the second-highest number of goals in the top half of the Premier League table so far.
Even though Hakimi, himself, is not a defence-oriented right-back, his one-touch football, pace and technical prowess should tune in well with Frank Lampard’s high-powered tactical setup that revolves around the dynamic nature of the team’s young players.
That being said, it is probably unrealistic to imagine Real Madrid letting go of Hakimi on a permanent basis this summer, especially if we are to consider their own problems, as discussed earlier.
Even the player himself is more likely to move back and settle in at the Bernabeu rather than trying his luck in yet another unknown league. Hence, Real Madrid does indeed seem like the best option for Hakimi this summer.