Why Achraf Hakimi would be the ideal option to solve Arsenal’s defensive woes
Achraf Hakimi became the first Moroccan footballer to get his hands on the UEFA Champions League when he won it with Real Madrid in 2017-18. A product of Madrid’s youth system, he played for the reserves before making his first-team debut in the La Liga last season.
However, he was sent out on a two-season loan deal to Borussia Dortmund to get more regular minutes and continue his development in the right direction. And few would argue that the 20-year-old highly-rated right-back has already shown signs of developing into a finished product.
Hakimi, who was a part of Morocco’s squad at the 2018 FIFA World Cup at Russia, is known for his versatility and work rate as a full-back. Essentially a right-back by trade, he has also been used as a left-back and as a centre-back due to his superior physical presence.
In fact, Hakimi has been used as a left-back at Dortmund this season and has still managed to produce his best football.
A typical modern-day attack-minded full-back, Hakimi is very solid and compact at the back, while also providing an extra attacking outlet down the flanks with his powerful overlapping runs.
Blessed with an incredible technique and unrivalled stamina, the 20-year-old has the tenacity to run up and down the pitch for the entire ninety minutes. That is exactly the reason why he is rarely caught out of position even when he plays higher up the pitch.
Hakimi has a sound positional sense for a full-back and is adept at winning back possession for his team with crucial tackles and interceptions. He is not a particularly good crosser of the ball but he makes up for it with his ability to link up brilliantly with short and incisive passes.
He is a player with a good eye for a pass and tends to create chances with intelligent through balls and flick-ons from the wide areas. As a matter of fact, Hakimi averages 68.6 passes per game with an accuracy of 87%, including 2.4 long balls per game.
To put things into perspective, he would be a wonderful signing for Arsenal in January. The Gunners have struggled for consistency at the back and the lack of depth in defensive options has hit them hard this season.
Unai Emery’s men went down 5-1 to Liverpool last weekend and the opposition enjoyed the fruits of some shambolic defending from Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi and Stephan Lichtsteiner. Arsenal have lacked effective organisation across the backline and have been exposed too much at the back.
Arsenal have done pretty well under their new manager Emery in what was expected to be a season of transition. However, they have conceded 30 goals so far, which is one of the poorest defensive records in the top ten in the Premier League.
As things stand, Arsenal need a versatile defender who is capable of playing in multiple positions across the backline and someone like Hakimi would be a fantastic choice for that purpose. Such a trait of versatility is rare to find and Arsenal should go all out to sign him in January.