• Transfers

‘Inter have been tracking Hakimi for years now’

Getty Images

Inter’s swoop for Achraf Hakimi seemed to come out of nowhere, but ex-player Houssine Kharja reveals this has been in the works for at least two years.

Hakimi is all but set to be an Inter player this summer but it appears the Nerazzurri have had it all in motion for quite a while.

A deal has reportedly been done with Real Madrid for €40m plus €5m in bonuses, after his loan spell with Borussia Dortmund expired. He’s expected in Italy for a medical over the next 48 hours.

What surprised many about the Hakimi transfer is that Inter were never once publicly linked with the 21-year-old by journalists.

In what looks like Inter came out of the blues to secure the deal, ex-Nerazzurri man Houssine Kharja reveals the club’s hierarchy have been tracking the youngster since he was a teenager.

“(Inter director Piero) Ausilio has been tracking him for a long time. When he was at Real Madrid and not really playing two-and-a-half years ago, Ausilio asked me several times about him,” revealed Kharja to DiMarzio.

“He’s wonderful and in all my years playing for Morocco, I’ve never seen a talent like his. He is very intelligent and will know how to adapt to Italian football.

“It might be a struggle initially when it comes to defending, so he will need a little help with that. After all, Maicon had trouble at first and then went on to win the Treble.”

“Hakimi isn’t afraid of anything, just like me. He’s played in Madrid and Dortmund, he won the Champions League. The San Siro crowd can only fire him up.”

It’s reported Hakimi turned down more money from Manchester City and Bayern Munich, as he believes Conte’s Inter is a more suitable project for his style of football.

“Conte’s system is perfect for him,” agrees Kharja.

The 21-year-old right-back will play on the right side of midfield in Conte’s 3-4-1-2 formation next season.

Hakimi scored nine goals with 10 assists in 45 competitive games for Borussia Dortmund this term.