Right-backs seem to be the favourite flavour for the new footballing calendar so far.
From scoring wonderful goals to providing delightful assists, from cutting down opponent attacks, being played out of position to garnering injuries galore, there seems to be a resurgence of chatters & murmurs for a certain group of footballers.
Modern-day full-backs are expected to pose more of an attacking threat for the opposition than a couple of decades back.
Focusing on the right-hand side of the field, few names have become synonymous with the position.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Cancelo, Reece James, Dani Carvajal, Juan Cuadrado, Benjamin Pavard. And many, many more. They defend, attack, score goals and bring a different dimension to the game these days.
One particular player, although, hasn’t had the best of the past number of weeks.
Achraf Hakimi, the Moroccan right-back is currently playing for Paris St. Germain after arriving from Inter Milan last summer on a five-year deal for a whopping €60m. That is an insane amount of money for a then-22-year-old.
He currently tops an unwanted statistic among Europe’s elite. In the last 10 matches he has played, he failed to deliver a single cross to a teammate.
Yes, you read that right! Not even one. For the second most expensive right-back ever, you would have expected more.
He started his season with a goal against Clermont on matchday 1 in a 5-0 victory. He further both assisted & scored against Lille in the 7-1 drubbing. But his last goal contribution came in the UEFA Champions League group clash against Juventus. That was on the 6th of September.
Since then, he has played the entire 90 minutes in 8 of the succeeding 10 matches, without delivering a cross for his teammates, including 2 for his national team.
His average rating on WhoScored this season so far is a lowly 6.92.
As per FBREF, he ranks in the 37th and 28th percentiles in Shot-Creating Actions and Progressive Passes respectively.
In other words, after amassing 19 shot creating opportunities in the opening 6 matches of his season, he has managed only 3 in the following 8 matches for his club, since the game against the Bianconeri.
Playing as a right wing-back protected by a 3-man defence, Hakimi has the license to maraud forward and create havoc for the opposition.
PSG’s star-studded squad with the likes of Messi, Neymar & Mbappe are scoring goals for fun this season. This relieves a lot of the pressure from the likes of Hakimi & Nuno Mendes, his counterpart in the team, to impact the scoresheet.
But that doesn’t give them the right to become complacent, resulting in such a massive drop in performance.
Christophe Galtier, the PSG manager, is going to have a crunching schedule ahead, with games coming thick & fast courtesy of the winter World Cup right around the corner. And he has to get the best out of everyone in the squad if they are to continue mounting challenges on all fronts.
Hopefully, Achraf Hakimi is just having a cold streak and he’ll pull himself out of this slump pretty soon. Or else, the January transfer window is approaching and anything can happen in this trigger-happy, cut-throat competitive era among top football clubs.
The clock is ticking and we’ll be here to find out how his story unfolds.