​When a slight, gangly 19-year-old turned up at Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2018 after starring for Real Madrid's youth sides but with just nine La Liga appearances to his name, few would've envisaged the superstar Achraf Hakimi has become in the following 18 months.


Currently in the midst of a two-year loan spell in Germany from Real Madrid, Hakimi has thrived in this exciting, attacking, if a bit chaotic, Borussia Dortmund side across a number of positions. 


The Morocco international's first season saw him split his time between left and right-back as Lucien Favre almost exclusively fielded a 4-2-3-1, with Hakimi covering for both of Dortmund's ageing club legends, Marcel Schmelzer and Łukasz Piszczek.

Achraf Hakimi,Marcel Schmelzer

Hakimi exploited his incredible physical attributes to seemingly endlessly charge up and down either flank, never letting the opportunity to bound into the attacking third pass him by. He played a key role as ​Dortmund made their first real title tilt since the days of Thomas Tuchel and when he hobbled off against Wolfsburg, he left his side top of the table going into April. 


However, the next match saw them battered 5-0 by Bayern Munich as the Bavarian giants reclaimed top spot and snatch the Bundesliga crown with Hakimi sidelined for the rest of the campaign. 


This season Dortmund are again locked in a title battle with Bayern but have the likes of Borussia Mönchengladbach and RB Leipzig to contend with as well. 


With one year's worth of first team football under his belt, Hakimi has continued to improve at an even greater rate this campaign, as his attacking tendencies have been maximised following Dortmund's shift to a 3-4-3 in late November to accommodate their attacking roster.

Achraf Hakimi,Jadon Sancho,Erling Braut Haaland

This tactical alteration has pushed Hakimi forward to a right wing-back role which seems to be a position perfectly tailored to the 21-year-old's skillset. To go alongside his remarkable stamina, Hakimi possesses such speed it feels as though he's been done a disservice to simply say 'he's quick'. 


According to the ​Bundesliga's official website, Hakimi was clocked at 36.2 km/h earlier this season, the fastest any player in Germany's top flight has managed since records began in 2011. 


But to go with this speed of foot, Hakimi has shown his speed of thought as he has already racked up nine league assists this season, with three in his last two games - a tally bettered only by ​Thomas Müller and his teammate Jadon Sancho. 


In fact, even when Hakimi isn't providing the final pass for a Dortmund move ending in an effort on goal, he's inevitably involved in the build-up to this attack more so than any other BVB player, often teaming up with the aforementioned Sancho down their potent right-hand side. 

Achraf Hakimi,Jadon Sancho

This right flank could be where the upcoming ​Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain is won or lost. 


If Favre is bold enough to deploy his 3-4-3 against PSG, Hakimi and Sancho's combination play will cause all sorts of havoc down PSG’s left flank, which is beginning to be somewhat of a problematic side for Les Parisiens


This is the side where Neymar is in charge of providing extra defensive cover and while the Brazilian may be in the form of his career, having sat out the last four matches, the one player you do not want to face when a bit rusty is Achraf Hakimi. 


However, prior to his injury, the Brazilian had actually put in more of a defensive shift since Tuchel’s switch to an ultra-attacking 4-4-2 in which the German has shoehorned Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Ángel Di María and Mauro Icardi.

Lille OSC v Paris Saint-Germain - Ligue 1

In fact, PSG’s number ten has been attempting an average of three tackles per game (which is a lot for him) and actually retrieving possession 1.2 times per match. To put that in perspective, this is the same rate Roberto Firmino, one of the most defensively-dedicated forwards in Europe, has put up this season.


Yet, even if Neymar does return to action against Dortmund in the same form he enjoyed prior to his birthday party, PSG's first-choice left-back, Juan Bernat, while impressive this campaign, is himself coming back from injury. This means that the left-hand side of PSG, the side tasked with halting the attacking onslaught that is Hakimi and Sancho, haven't played together since mid-January. 


Perhaps Tuchel's plan will be to pin Hakimi back as Neymar is not too shabby with the goal at his mercy himself, but the Madrid-born youngster has proven to be more than capable in defence, with a particularly good sense of awareness. 


Nevertheless, the upcoming match-up looks to be one of the most enthralling Champions League encounters in recent years. 


Whatever the outcome of that tie, the progress Hakimi has made in the past 18 months has been astonishing to witness. And at 21 years of age, with a return to his hometown club Real Madrid on the horizon, Hakimi's future looks as bright as anyone's in the game.