Welcome to our Achraf Hakimi 2020/21 report card. As part of our post-season coverage, we’ll be dishing out grades and analyzing every Inter player’s season.
The only thing more surprising than Inter’s out-of-the-blue signing of Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid back in July of 2020 was the price. The €41 million Inter shipped to Spain for him seemed a bargain at the time, even amidst the coronavirus pandemic. A year on, the Moroccan is proving his worth to Inter is invaluable.
Position: Right Wing-back
Games Played: 45 (34 starts, 3,211 minutes)
Goals/Assists: 7 goals, 9 assists
What went right this season?
When he was signed last summer, Hakimi was seen as an immediate starter the following season, replacing an aging Antonio Candreva in the XI. The flanks were one of Inter’s weakest positions in the 2019/20 campaign and a solution was expected in the form of the 22-year-old. Hakimi was undaunted by the weight on his shoulders and proved to be a vital member of Inter’s Scudetto triumph.
With the fearsome duo of Lukaku and Lautaro slicing through opposing backlines week after week, it's no surprise the Nerazzurri consistently has one of the best attacks in Europe. The addition of Hakimi, however, gives Inter yet another dimension of play. Hakimi’s speed lends itself perfectly to Conte’s counter-attacking style of play and combined with his one-v-one ability, the Moroccan is a deadly threat when he’s clicking. The ex-Dortmund man has already become a key component of Inter’s attacking play. He leads Inter in touches in the final third (996) and has both the third-most shots and successful dribbles (41). Hakimi is even more important in the creation of chances. According to fbref, he is 5th in shots created (2.38 per 90) and 2nd in goals created (.57 per 90). In fact, only Lukaku and Lautaro consistently rank above Hakimi in Inter’s attacking stats.
One of the main concerns, when the transfer was announced, was how Hakimi’s defensive side of the game would adapt from the Bundesliga, where he had few responsibilities off the ball. Though his inexperience has been exposed a few times, overall Hakimi has been far from a defensive liability under Conte. He’s third in tackles won, successful pressures, and blocked passes. His speed has also come into use tracking back and slowing down counter attacks. Late in the Coppa Italia visit to Fiorentina, Hakimi sprinted back half the pitch to wipe out a Viola attack after an Eriksen giveaway in midfield.
Hakimi had several moments of brilliance scattered throughout the season but it’s his game winning brace against Bologna that stands out above the rest. After a rough stretch of form in the previous weeks, he took control of the game with Inter’s second and third of a 3-1 victory. Both finishes were of superb quality and left Bologna’s defense helpless, showing us just what Hakimi was capable of.
Hakimi's career at Inter hasn't been what we were expecting, but let's hope that this brace is the start of something special for Maghrebi Maicon. Shoutout to Brozovic too for that amazing through ball, he's back to his old self since his return. pic.twitter.com/CJDp50vIov— SM1LEY9 (@Smiley_1932) December 6, 2020
This 2nd goal was something special, we have an amazing talent on our hands and just remember he is only 21 years old. He still has a lot to improve on, so let's not bury him just yet pic.twitter.com/KW46mNow5S— SM1LEY9 (@Smiley_1932) December 6, 2020
What does he need to improve on?
While Hakimi is always a threat down the right flank, his final product frequently finds itself lacking. He leads Inter with 129 crosses but has completed only 24 (less than 20%) and is second-most in passes out of bounds and intercepted. All too often the ball finds Hakimi in dangerous positions, but poor decision-making or lack of execution soon kills the attack. At 22 years old, he’s still far from his best. The thought of an in-his-prime Hakimi flying up and down the San Siro pitch is enough to forget all of the missed crosses this season.
Hakimi also struggles against low-blocks that take away the space he loves to run into. If he can find a way to stay dangerous no matter what shape the opposition takes, Hakimi has all of the tools to become one of the best wingbacks in Europe.
What role will he play in 2021/22?
Inter’s financial future is murky at best and any given member of the current squad could be sacrificed for the profit books. Hakimi looks one of the likeliest and has interest from PSG, Bayern, and the Premier League. But if the Moroccan sticks around he’ll have even greater importance next season and his final third production will need to grow.