Inter Milan defender Achraf Hakimi has revealed he wanted to stay at Real Madrid in the summer and fight for his place.
Hakimi, 22, spent two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Real between 2018 and 2020, where the Madrilenian established himself as one of Europe’s most attacking and creative full-backs, subsequently eliciting admiring glances from a host of elite clubs in the summer.
The 34-capped Morocco international registered a staggering 10 assists last season alone in the Bundesliga, a total bettered only by Filip Kostic (11), Andrew Robertson (12) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (13) among defenders in Europe’s top five leagues.
Achraf Hakimi's 2019/20 Bundesliga season by numbers with Borussia Dortmund:
❍ 33 games
❍ 73 take-ons completed
❍ 36 chances created
❍ 10 assists
❍ 5 goals
Next stop, Serie A… ✈ https://t.co/gU5k5pJ2Px
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 30, 2020
Such was Hakimi’s burgeoning influence in the Ruhr Valley that he was tipped to return to Los Blancos and vie with Dani Carvajal — who took a similar path when he returned to Madrid from Bayer Leverkusen in 2013 — for a starting berth at right-back.
However, Zinedine Zidane’s loyalty to Real’s ‘old guard’ culminated in the academy graduate seeking first-team opportunities elsewhere, with Hakimi subsequently joining Inter Milan, where he has shone under the auspices of Antonio Conte to lift a first Serie A title for the club in 11 years.
Hakimi has been lauded for his Scudetto-winning exploits but the versatile full-back has since revealed that his intentions were to return to the Bernabeu from Dortmund and fight for his place, before he was eventually transferred to Inter.
“I have to clarify,” he told El Chriniguito. “People are speaking saying that I didn’t want to compete for my position and it wasn’t like that.
“Everyone knows that Real Madrid was my home and that I would have liked to play there, but due to different circumstances I think the club decided otherwise.
“Everyone knows that I would have liked to have been there and won the position. People talk, but people don’t know the reality.
“That bothers me a little, that people think I was afraid of winning or fighting for the position. I was the first one who asked if I could be there to win the position, because I felt qualified for it.”
‘Hakimi left Real Madrid because of Zidane’
Upon joining Inter in the summer from Real, Hakimi’s agent, Martin Camano, gave his take on why his client was ushered out of the Bernabeu door, believing Zinedine Zidane was the reason for the departure.
Speaking to Al Mountakhab in July 2020, he said: “Zidane is the reason for Hakimi’s transfer to Inter Milan. He must explain why Hakimi moved.”
Since relocating to the San Siro, Hakimi has cemented a consistent first-team berth at right wing-back as part of Conte’s famed 3-5-2.
He has taken little time to acclimatise to a new division, immediately translating his Dortmund form in Italy, with 13 direct contributions in Serie A this season (seven goals and six assists).