'Now he is one of the strongest full backs in the world': Ex-Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte says his former right back Achraf Hakimi would love to return to Real Madrid one day
Antonio Conte has claimed that Achraf Hakimi, his former right back at Inter Milan, would love to return to Real Madrid one day.
At the age of 22, Hakimi already has an enviable list of clubs on his CV, having come through Real's academy to make the first team before a two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund and a year at Inter, where he helped win the club their first Serie A title in 11 years under Conte.
Hakimi is now at Paris Saint-Germain but Conte, who is now a regular pundit for Sky Sport Italia having resigned as head coach in May, says the Moroccan longs to play at the Bernabeu again and praised him for patience as he waited for his chance at the San Siro.
'Hakimi's dream is to play for Real Madrid again,' said the 52-year-old, who is reportedly interested in the Manchester United job if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is sacked.
'He needed some benches and he accepted it calmly and eager to learn. Now he is one of the strongest full backs in the world. He has also improved a lot in the defensive phase and in the last pass.'
Inter faced Real at the Champions League group stage last season when the Spanish giants were overseen by Zinedine Zidane.
A crucial mistake by Hakimi in the first of those matches saw Hakimi's attempted pass back to goalkeeper Samir Handanovic cut out by Karim Benzema, who rounded the Slovenian to score the opener in a 3-2 win for Zidane's men before they also won the reverse fixture in Italy.
'He suffered in those two games,' recalled Conte. 'I remember the mistake he made in Valdebebas, but from there he worked hard.'
Conte left Inter in May over the club's planned firesale of big names to balance the books.
The two biggest departures were Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku for €60million (£51m) and €115m (£98m) respectively, while Matteo Politano also joined Napoli for €19m (£16m).
The cost of Inter's overall incoming players amounted to just €31m (£26m) by comparison, although the start to life under Simone Inzaghi has been pretty promising, with two wins and a draw from their first three Serie A games this season.
However, the Nerazzurri came unstuck in their first Champions League game this term on Wednesday - coincidentally against Los Blancos - with Rodrygo bagging the only goal of the game on 89 minutes.
Hakimi's PSG debut saw Mauricio Pochettino's men lose 1-0 in the Trophee des Champions - the French Community Shield - to last season's Ligue 1 winners Lille.
Hakimi has been on the winning side in all five of the team's league games since he joined though, although that positive streak in all competitions came to an end when PSG drew 1-1 at Club Bruges as Ander Herrera's strike was cancelled out by Hans Vanaken.