REAL MADRID

Conte: Achraf wants to play for Real Madrid again

Antonio Conte, who coached Achraf Hakimi at Inter Milan, says the Moroccan dreams of a return to Madrid despite his incredible start to life at PSG.

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Conte: Achraf wants to play for Real Madrid again
BENOIT TESSIER REUTERS

Antonio Conte knows Achraf Hakimi well. Under Conte’s wing at Inter Milan during a formative year last season, the 22-year-old Spanish-Moroccan grew to become one of the best full-backs on the planet.

Both of them left Inter this summer. Conte remains out of work, while Achraf served to alleviate the Neroazurri’s financial troubles and was offloaded to PSG, where he has so far shined under coach Mauricio Pochettino.

The young full-back has started in all five of PSG’s opening Ligue 1 games -- all of which they have won -- as well in their 1-1 Champions League opener against Club Brugge, and now appears to be an indispensable starter for his Argentine boss.

Conte: Achraf’s dreams of Real Madrid return

However despite his dream start to life in Paris, Achraf’s real dream remains to return to Real Madrid, according to Conte.

"Hakimi's dream is to play for Real Madrid again," he said on Sky Sport Italia, where he was the special punditry guest for the Inter-Madrid Champions League clash on Wednesday.

Hakimi had moved up the Real Madrid youth ranks before being offloaded on a two-season spell at Borussia Dortmund in 2018 following his promotion to Los Blancos’ first team. In 2020, he made €43m ($47.3m) permanent switch to Inter, where he came up against Madrid twice in the Champions League group stage last season.

"He suffered in those two games. I remember the mistake he made in Valdebebas (Real Madrid’s training ground stadium and temporary home last season), but from there he worked hard,” the Italian coach recalled, before going on to praise the Moroccan international’s attitude.

Achraf HAKIMI of PSG during the French championship Ligue 1 football match between Stade de Reims and Paris Saint-Germain on August 29, 2021 at Auguste Delaune stadium in Reims, France.

“When he needed to be benched, he accepted it calmly and remained eager to learn. Now he is one of the strongest full-backs in the world, he can become a star. He has also improved a lot in the defensive phase and in the final pass.”

Achraf decided to take a big step in his career by signing for PSG this summer. The Ligue 1 club paid €60 million euros for tje Spanish-Moroccan defender, who signed a deal until 2026. But given his progress over the past year and considering his apparent desire to return to Madrid, the LaLiga giants could soon consider a way to win him back to allow him to fulfill his dream.