Thomas Tuchel means serious business next season as he is aiming to bring the Premier League back to Stamford Bridge after winning the Champions League less than a month ago. While knockout football suited the way Chelsea approached games, Tuchel understands that he needs more attacking flair in some areas of the game. The priority from Day 1 has been an out-and-out center-forward, but the Blues are also keen on bringing a dynamic full-back to the club, courtesy of which Inter Milan full-back Achraf Hakimi has been touted for a big-money move to Stamford Bridge this summer.
Why are Chelsea determined to sign Achraf Hakimi?
The answer to this, if simply put, is that Hakimi has been the standout full-back in Europe for the past 2 seasons. His pace, strength, and vision on the ball have been sublime, while his defensive deficiencies have been mended by ex Inter Milan and Chelsea coach Antonio Conte.
Hakimi’s strengths lie going forward, but the fact that he is an incredible athlete has helped him in his defensive duties. The Moroccan was involved in 18 goals in all competitions last season and this has piqued Chelsea’s interest.
Thomas Tuchel reverted to Reece James towards the end of the season as the right-sided centre-back as he felt that playing Azpilicueta in the full-back role will give Chelsea more cover at the back. This gave Ben Chilwell the license to maraud down on the left-wing as there were always 4 defenders behind him while N’Golo Kante and Jorginho would also sit back. However, Tuchel understands that he cannot use this tactic over the course of a league season as you need two balanced full-backs, and neither James nor Azpilicueta are the answer to the question on the right side.
However, James was brilliant in a centre-back role, and Tuchel will want the Englishman to continue in that position, and this is where Achraf Hakimi comes in. The Moroccan will be allowed to bomb down the right-wing because of the way Chelsea operate in a 3-4-2-1 formation. Hakimi will not have to hesitate before he goes forward because he knows that Reece James is both fast and strong enough to stop any counter-attacks while Kai Havertz, who is most likely to play on the right-wing next season has the knack of cutting inside and leave a lot of room on the wings. This is perfect for somebody like Hakimi, who can seamlessly slot into this role and not change his game.
In comparison to the other Premier League full-backs last season, Hakimi had more assists while his expected assists was also far greater than the others. While both Trent Alexander Arnold and Luke Shaw had more shot-creating actions than the Moroccan, Hakimi had more goal-creating actions than any other Premier League right-back last season, which means that the quality of chances he was creating was the best in comparison to other Premier League full-backs. While his passing could improve, it won’t be a concern for somebody like Tuchel, who improved everybody’s pass completion rate since he arrived at Stamford Bridge 4 months ago.
Thus, Hakimi ticks every department for Tuchel, and Chelsea will be keen on bringing the defender to England soon but might face some complications before they do so.
Uncertainty all around:
While both Chelsea and PSG have made an identical bid of £51.6 million for the full-back, Inter Milan are holding out for a fee in the range of £70 million for the player.
Since then, PSG have not made any intentions to show that they will increase their offer while Chelsea have included a couple of players in the deal, namely Marcos Alonso and or Davide Zappacosta. Inter were previously said to not be interested in any player + money deals for Hakimi but with PSG not increasing their offer, the Italian club are said to be open to any negotiations with the Blues.
As for Hakimi, the player is said to be disheartened by PSG’s lack of motive to sign him while there are also some reports stating that the Blues have already agreed to personal terms with the Moroccan and that it is only a matter of the transfer fee that needs to be agreed with Inter Milan.
Achraf Hakimi is going to make a big-money move this summer, and if last year was any evidence, Chelsea have the pull and the might to bring the Moroccan to London, as they look to win the Premier League again.