Much of the talk about big money purchases this summer has mainly revolved around Premier League clubs. Deals for Kai Havertz and Thiago Alcantara are widely perceived as coveted captures, as they (and others) have drastically improved the quality of the Premier League. However, in the midst of the chaos in the covid-impacted transfer window, one deal stands out: Achraf Hakimi to Inter.
One of Germany’s Best
For the last two years, Hakimi has been making a name for himself on Dortmund’s right-hand side, alongside Jadon Sancho. The two struck up quite the partnership, combing for a total of 49 goal contributions (AH: 5G+10A; JS: 17G+17A) in the Bundesliga in 19/20. While Dortmund weren’t known for their defensive solidity, Hakimi, along with Guerreiro, showcased their creative abilities, proving crucial to Dortmund’s tremendous attacking output. Strong with both feet, Hakimi provided Sancho with a platform to do move where he wanted, moving inside when Sancho went wide, and vice-versa.
This summer, as his 2-year loan deal from Real Madrid expired, Inter Milan purchased Achraf Hakimi for €40 million. From the outside looking in, it seemed to be a fairly easy transfer to complete, as it didn’t seem like Zidane was keen on keeping him. I truly believe this one could come back to bite Los Blancos, hard.
A System that Fits Like a Glove
At first glance, the move looks smart from Inter as they also set up with a three-back formation, like Dortmund. But when you look closer, it’s genius. Conte sets his team up with three elite (or close to elite) center-backs, three box-to-box midfielders, and two strikers. This means the wide backs with the entire flank. These players (Hakimi and Perisic/Young) have freedom to bomb forward as they are provided cover by the midfielder and center-back on their side.
This system will not only unlock Hakimi’s full attacking potential, but unlock Inter’s full attacking potential. With Lautaro making runs into channels, Hakimi may become Inter’s most influential player, bar the strikers.
The Sky is the Limit
Finally, to come back to my original point, it is worth taking a peek at Hakimi’s market value versus his actual transfer fee. Despite being worth close to €60 million, Inter Milan signed him for €20 million below that valuation. Yes, coronavirus played a big part in lowering players’ values, and yes, Madrid may have felt like they didn’t need him, but this may prove to be the transfer of the summer. The opportunity to sign a young, elite player for an important position (and for a reduced fee) doesn’t come along too often, and Inter have done just that.
Achraf Hakimi has already scored and assisted on his full Serie A debut, and you better believe there is far more to come from him.