Real Madrid’s plan of accumulating the best youngsters in the world and farming them out until they’re ready looked like it was working to a tee.
Martin Ødegaard, Takefusa Kubo, Sergio Reguillon and Alvaro Odriozola have all been sent out on loan this season and performed admirably – grabbing the attention of the Bernabeu board. But nobody has stood out more than Achraf Hakimi.
That makes the news that the Moroccan international is about to join Inter Milan in a move worth €40 million even more bemusing.
Hakimi has been on loan at Dortmund for the last two seasons and has become on of the best young full-backs in Europe. Hakimi had already performed well for Real Madrid, as he broke into the team under Zinedine Zidane during the Frenchman’s previous spell in charge. Hakimi is only 21 years old and with two-and-a-half years of regular, first-team, top level experience under his belt looked a dead cert to return to Madrid this summer and compete with Dani Carvajal for the starting berth. It seems however, that the player’s will is to go somewhere he is guaranteed to be first-choice.
According to Sky Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Inter are close to securing the deal and have already received the approval of the player. Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Dortmund were all also interested in a possible move for Hakimi, but Inter have moved the quickest.
Why are Madrid letting him go though? Dani Carvajal has had injury problem upon injury problem in the last two seasons and his form has dwindled. At one point the best full-back on the continent, Carvajal has struggled to make a real impact for Madrid and is really living off his past reputations at this point. With no real competition for places, he’s strolled as the first-choice right-back.
If Madrid are to insert a buy-back clause in the deal, then it could be a stroke of genius. If Zidane is signing off on the deal, it’s surely because he still sees Carvajal as his first-choice for the time being. With Odriozola and Reguillon due back in the summer, the two of them could act as cover for Carvajal and Ferland Mendy as Marcelo’s future hangs in the balance.
If Odriozola kicks on and becomes the talent that many in Spain believe he could, then the need for Hakimi lessens. If not, the buy-back option could be triggered and he be brought back after gaining more valuable experience at the top level. Especially in Italy, where defending comes first for most teams, Hakimi will improve even more in that side of his game. He’s obviously much better going forward than defensively but at 21, his strengths far outweigh his weaknesses at this point.
At this point, the only potential losers are Hakimi. By letting him go elsewhere, they run the risk of losing him. Buy-back clause or not, once he’s not contracted there his future is in his hands and that could bite Real Madrid on the backside. For Hakimi though, it sounds like a perfect plan. Inter Milan get one of the hottest full-backs in Europe, for a more than fair fee and potentially make a profit on him if they end up losing him to a buy-back clause. They’re the real winners in this deal.