Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Schalke Scout Report: Achraf Hakimi
By Max Champness
Picture the scene. Two o’clock in the afternoon. Television on. Ready for the return of football after what seems like decades of boredom. The beautiful game was finally back, and what better way to start it than the infamous Revierderby. Two of Germany’s best teams: Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, fighting out to win the first game back and claim socially distanced bragging rights.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of fans in the stadium, the atmosphere was inevitably dull and slightly eerie. German football is known for the incredible fan support, both home and away, with the hostility and rivalry a key part of the games. That wasn’t to be, but it didn’t stop the world tuning in however they could.
The game, on the most part, did not disappoint. A cruising win for Borussia Dortmund, scoring four goals whilst maintaining the clean sheet. By all accounts, it was a commendable performance by the home side- a fine mix of attacking flair, well-orchestrated pressing, and defensive solidity. Despite missing four of their most vital players in Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, Axel Witsel and Emre Can from the starting line-up, Dortmund successfully displayed why they have what it takes to press Bayern for the top stop domestically, whilst also highlighting how they could succeed in Europe.
As for their opponents, Schalke looked conveniently like a side who hadn’t play in long time. They were, in almost every aspect of the game, outclassed by the league-challengers; defensively they couldn’t cope with Dortmund’s progressive front line, and they offered little going forward.
How, you may wonder, does this link in the slightest to Arsenal? Well; we saw an impressive display from many of the Borussia Dortmund players, with Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt, Raphael Guerreiro and Erling Haaland grabbing the headlines for their excellent contributions. However, despite not receiving as much praise as his teammates, it is right wing back Achraf Hakimi who caught my eye.
The Algerian prodcued yet another commendable performance, making several good opportunities from crosses and completely neutralising the threat his Schalke counterpart, Amine Harit. Despite being known for his attacking capabilities, Hakimi displayed to us a deeper side of his game, a confident and able defensive player, with commendable positioning and spatial awareness.
It has to be said that, as well as a commendable defensive repertoire, Achraf Hakimi is arguably the best young attacking fullback in world football, alongside Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davis and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. His energetic runs, blistering pace and eye for an accurate delivery are what set him apart from your average right-back.
In this Bundesliga season alone, the Algerian has contributed three goals and ten assists in just 26 appearances. That’s a goal involvement every 164 minutes. These stats are, for a defender, quite remarkable. However, we must consider that the majority of his appearances are as the right-wing back as part of a midfield five, so he has the option to attack much more than a conventional full-back. However, his quality and frequency of crosses justify the praise he has received- I struggle to think of many more consistent crossers than Hakimi.
What impresses me most about Achraf Hakimi is his wise head on young shoulders. At the age of just 21, his understanding and ability to read the game is impressive and is only going to improve. He made evident against Schalke he has a good sense of when to push forward and when to drop off. It is, in fact, hard to criticise any aspect of Hakimi’s game. If given the time to develop and minutes to do so I see no reason why, in several years, Achraf Hakimi cannot be one of the world’s best fullbacks. He certainly has the pure ability to do so.
After being reportedly on ‘Arsenal’s radar’ by several reputable journalists, Achraf Hakimi is, for me, an ideal signing for our club. His defensive awareness and attacking flair encompass everything we need in a modern right-back. He would, if Hector Bellerin does decide to leave, be an excellent replacement for the Spaniard. However, with his parent club Real Madrid keeping a close eye and Dortmund also on the lookout to make the deal permanent, Hakimi to Arsenal seems an unrealistic hope.
With the Premier League’s return date still uncertain despite Governmental permission to restart in June, it is looking like the Bundesliga will be the main source of football enjoyment for the foreseeable future. We as Arsenal fans should use this as an opportunity to assess the likes of Achraf Hakimi; players who could genuinely improve our side. As easy as it can be to focus on the Haaland’s and Sancho’s of football, the creative and skilful goal scorers, I challenge each one of you to watch the upcoming Dortmund games and cast your eye to Hakimi- watch his well-rounded play and consider this question: should we go all-out to sign Achraf Hakimi?