These are exciting times to be a Chelsea supporter.
Fresh from winning the UEFA Champions League for the second time in their rich and colourful history just over a fortnight ago, Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel is busy putting plans in place ahead of the 2021/22 campaign getting under way.
The German, who succeeded Frank Lampard in the Blues managerial hot-seat back in January, has aspirations to add three new faces to the squad this summer in an effort to turn the club back into genuine Premier League title contenders.
It is understood that Tuchel, who will discover his side’s Premier League fixtures for the new campaign on Wednesday morning, wants to add a right-sided defender, a central-midfielder and a much-craved striker to his ranks.
Whilst Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland is understood to be the striker that Tuchel sees as the missing link to strengthen his side at the top end of the pitch, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss has pinpointed Inter Milan defender Achraf Hakimi as the ideal man to bolster the right wing-back position.
Last week, as reported by Sky Sports, Chelsea tabled a £56.1million offer for the Morocco international, matching the bid that was already on the table from PSG. It is understood that Inter want closer to £68.6million to consider the idea of letting go of the former Real Madrid man this summer.
If Chelsea were to go one step further and match Inter’s demands, Tuchel would be signing a player who would add no shortage of attacking threat to the wing-back berth, with the former Dortmund loanee having made a name for himself as one of most attack-minded wing-backs in European football in recent seasons.
For instance, the 2020/21 campaign saw Hakimi score 7 goals and rack up 11 assists in all competitions.
It is statistics like those that have seen the admiration for the 22-year-old grow, with former Inter chief Antonio Conte, who was responsible for signing Hakimi last summer, just one of those to have hailed his talents.
Hakimi was just two games into his career at the Serie A club when he scored and claimed an assist, sparking special praise from Conte in his post-match press call.
“Hakimi is a player with great potential and he was born to play across a five-man midfield and attack down the wing,” Conte said back in September, following Inter’s 5-2 victory over Benevento.
“He must improve in defence but playing with three centre-backs will allow him to show his qualities. He was an important acquisition in the transfer market and whilst he must keep working hard, he had a big impact on the match today.
“I hope he can continue playing like this.”
Hakimi, who is renowned for his ability to bomb forward from right wing-back and support the attackers, is widely regarded as one of the very best in the role in world football, regularly attracting praise and admiration for that specific part of his game.
One of his biggest fans happens to be former Brazil and Real Madrid striker Ronaldo, who, of course, spent time playing for Inter Milan during his career
Earlier this year, Ronaldo waxed lyrical about the 22-year-old’s talents, admitting that he often thinks about what it would be like to play alongside him.
“Achraf Hakimi is an extraordinary player,” said the Brazilian icon during an interview with Gazetta Dello Sport. “Real were wrong to let him go like that.
“It is one of Inter’s best deals of the last ten years. Every now and then I think to myself, ‘Ronie, imagine yourself with Hakimi.’
“We would have been at an indecent speed.”
With Hakimi drawing special praise from Conte – one of football’s best managers – and Ronaldo, who is one of the greatest to have ever played the game, it speaks volumes about just how talented he is.
The summer window is officially open and now the Blues can look to build on European glory and bolster the squad to push for Premier League supremacy.
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Admittedly, almost £70million for a right wing-back may seem a very, very high price to pay, but the Moroccan is about much more than just being a defender. He is renowned for his attacking quality and he would most certainly add no shortage of attacking thrust to Tuchel’s squad.
If the Blues were to sign him it would most likely see him land the right wing-back role and force Reece James into the back-three, a position he showed flashes of quality in towards the end of the 2020/21 campaign.