Chelsea have their sights on their summer recruitment after an incredible Champions League win under two weeks ago. The Blues have been quick to extend the contract of Thomas Tuchel and they will back the German in the transfer market. Sky in Italy report that they have matched PSG’s offer for Inter Milan wing-back Achraf Hakimi. The fee is believed to be £56.1 million. Although this is short of the Serie A champions’ valuation of £68.8 million, there may be an opportunity to include players in part exchange. The two players mentioned are Andreas Christensen and Emerson Palmieri.
This is an interesting link, as it suggests Tuchel will continue with the 3-4-3 formation that has been successful during his first few months at Stamford Bridge. Hakimi is very much a wing back, capable of playing on either side, but he is more comfortable on the right. He starred as Inter ended Juventus’ monopoly of the Scudetto. It was perfect for Antonio Conte’s system, but the Italian coach has now departed and the club do have financial concerns. They may be tempted to cash in on the Moroccan after just one year at the club.
The attraction of Hakimi is obvious. He has emerged as one of the most dangerous wing-backs in world football and he has proven himself in two countries showing adaptability. Although he didn’t break through at Real Madrid, he did contribute two goals and one assist in nine La Liga matches, therefore it can be argued that he has performed in three countries. During the last three seasons with Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan, he has contributed 14 goals and 22 assists, with a goal involvement every 197.8 minutes. This is a great record for a wing-back.
Chelsea’s biggest issue under Tuchel has been scoring goals. It would make sense that the club would try to add goals across the pitch. If Hakimi is available, he would be a smart addition. At the age of 22, he could continue to develop and his contribution in the final third could increase.
In terms of the underlying numbers, Hakimi has a combined expected goals and expected assists (xG+xA) per ninety minutes of 0.34. This rates him in the 98th percentile for full-backs. He averages 4.38 progressive passes, 7.68 progressive carries, 2.38 shot creating actions and 4.27 touches in the opposition penalty area per ninety minutes. He rates very highly in each when comparing to other full-backs, which underlines his attacking profile.
Defensively, Hakimi averages 1.75 tackles, 0.83 interceptions, 1.52 blocks and 0.89 clearances per ninety minutes. These are all below average compared to full-backs, which would be expected as he is utilised in a more attacking role than the majority. However, his work rate is shown by his average of 16.76 pressures per ninety minutes, ranking in the 93rd percentile.
Supporters will be concerned that Hakimi’s arrival will be bad for the further development of Reece James. However, the two do have different profiles. James is a more active defender, averaging 2.59 tackles, 1.48 interceptions, 2.51 blocks and 2.35 clearances per ninety minutes. The England international is capable in the attacking half, as shown by his average of 0.2 xG+xA, 2.59 shot creating actions and 6.5 progressive carries per ninety minutes. However, he has contributed just one goal and four assists in his two seasons in Chelsea’s first team.
Hakimi would add a better attacking option to Chelsea’s wing-back pool. James would also be able to play some minutes at right centre-back, as he did occasionally last season. Competition is always good for the development of younger players and James looks to be a player that would thrive under the threat of a new signing in his position.
The appeal of Hakimi is obvious. His adaptability shown by performing across three leagues makes him an appealing target, as he would likely hit the ground running. Chelsea need to add goals to their team and the 22-year-old almost guarantees that from wing-back.