Remember the name and the date that a young Real Madrid youth product came of age, Achraf Hakimi against Tottenham on the 17th October 2017. The Moroccan international, at the tender age of 18, gave the experienced Jan Vertonghen a torrid time, sometimes running rings around the Belgian defender.
At such a young age his confidence and attacking prowess demonstrated what a talent Los Blancos have on their hand, as the youngster fills in for no-nonsense defender Dani Carvajal.
Here is 5 things you need to know about the Real Madrid prodigy.
1. Although a Spanish Native, Hakimi Has Opted to Play For Morocco
At only 18 years of age, Hakimi Achraf has already discovered the fully-fledged life of a professional football player, making his Real Madrid home debut in front of the expectant Madridistas, while also featuring for Morocco on six separate occasions.
Although a Spanish native who was born in Madrid in 1998, the young full-back has opted to play for the country of his parents, who would’ve been proud to see their son notch his first goal against Mali in an international qualifier for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
2. Hakimi Offers Versatility
Having coming through the famed ‘La Fabrica’, the academy that churns out player after player for Real Madrid in their youth system, Hakimi has plied his trade in a number of positions, often filling in at centre-back across all age groups while also making his international debut at left-back for Morocco.
When Danilo left for Manchester City in the summer, many expected Los Blancos to cough up the cash and sign a proven back up for Dani Carvajal, who is currently injured. Nevertheless, boss Zinedine Zidane must have seen some promising signs when he was the coach of Castilla, instead opting to promote Hakimi to the first team.
3. Hakimi is the First Arab to Play for Real Madrid
Joining the set-up at Real Madrid at the tender age of eight, Hakimi has developed through the ranks at Los Merengues to make history, becoming the first Arab player to wear the famous white of the all-time La Liga record winners.
Showing a quick turn of pace, excellent crossing ability and the stamina needed to not just attack the Tottenham side but also cover his tracks defensively, Hakimi set a precedent and possibly opened up the door to more Arabic players making a mark for the top sides in La Liga.
4. His Displays Have Already Impressed Zidane in One Month
To play for Real Madrid must be a daunting task, pulling on the famous jersey in front of a quick-to-dismiss fan base and board of directors, the promising defender rose to the occasion in the past month by showing he is more then up to the task of replacing Carvajal.
His performances did not go unnoticed by club legend Zidane, who was quick to praise the exciting full back, stating: “he was outstanding,” following his highly-charged performance against Spurs, later adding: “Achraf (Hakimi) has shown that he can play and I am not scared to throw him in going forward.”
5. Hakimi’s Rise to the Top Has Been Quick
Despite a month of excellent displays that show a maturity beyond his years, Hakimi’s rise to the top level of Spanish football has been a remarkably quick one. The defender has not had much time to get use to the attackers in La Liga, as the young prodigy only entered the first team in the summer.
Before that, he only had one season of football in the Castilla B squad, where he featured twenty-eight times, bagging one goal. Also starring in the UEFA Youth League and in friendlies against the likes of Chelsea in 2016, his ascendancy in the game shows the faith Zidane has in the Morocco international.