Every weekend we pick out one under-23 player from around Europe and analyse their performance to provide you with an in-depth scouting report.
This week, we shine the spotlight on Moroccan Achraf Hakimi, who made his debut for Real Madrid against Espanyol on Sunday night.
The 18-year-old is the first Arab player, representing an Arab country, to feature in the first team for Los Blancos, getting the nod after Dani Carvajal was sidelined with a virus.
Here’s an analysis of his display as the hosts won 2-0 at the Bernabeu.
Tackles – 3
Clearances – 3
Crosses – 5
Aerials duels won – 2
Touches – 72
Passes – 50
Passing Accuracy – 92%
Dribbles – 2
Hakimi was full of energy, no doubt aided by the adrenaline a teenager would benefit from when making his debut for Madrid in front of a packed Bernabeu.
However, the 18-year-old’s confidence was palpable as he overlapped on the right side at every opportunity, never hesitating to join the attack.
What was equally impressive though is his desire to get back into position at pace. Every time the hosts lost possession, the full-back was seen sprinting in the opposite direction and was never caught out.
When receiving possession in the final third, Hakimi always backed himself in a one-on-one, opting to take on the defender instead of choosing the safe pass or an early cross into the box.
He would’ve dreamed of linking up with Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest players of all-time, and he did so on one occasion when his delightful ball over the top found the Portuguese inside the area only for his touch to let him down.
47th min – Gets forward down the right and squares a ball to Luka Modric whose clever dummy lets it run through to Isco but the Spaniard’s shot is closed down on the edge of the box.
55th min – The right-back makes another raid down the right flank and takes on his opposite number, twisting and turning, making his way into the box, but his eventual cross is deflected behind for a corner.
78th min – Hakimi has time on the ball, looks up and plays an excellent lobbed pass forward for Ronaldo but he can’t bring the ball under his spell as he contends with pressure from Hermoso.
He may have gotten his opportunity because of Carvajal’s illness but it speaks volumes that Zinedine Zidane would put faith in the 18-year-old instead of opting to use Casemeiro at right-back.
Hakimi showed plenty of promise, never putting a foot wrong and always looking confident on the ball. The youngster will be more than happy with a clean sheet in his first appearance for the club.
It’s no wonder Madrid allowed Danilo to leave for Manchester City in the summer without bringing in a replacement.