‘One of the best’: Frank Leboeuf praises ‘absolutely fantastic’ player that Chelsea tried to sign last summer

Frank Leboeuf hailed former Chelsea target Achraf Hakimi following his excellent display for Paris Saint-Germain last night.

Leboeuf waved lyrical about the young defender on ESPN after PSG’s narrow 1-0 Champions League victory over Real Madrid.

The Champions League churns out another spectacle

Kylian Mbappe stole the show with virtually the last kick of the game that handed Mauricio Pochettino’s side a slender lead ahead of the second leg.

Photo by Loic Baratoux/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The tie between arguably Europe’s two most lavish clubs was littered with all kind of subplots.

Mbappe scored and celebrated against the team he might well be joining in the summer.

Lionel Messi contested Madrid for the 46th time in his career, whilst former Barcelona star Neymar came off the bench.

Angel Di Maria faced some of his old Spanish colleagues.

Pochettino, once of Tottenham Hotspur, watched Thibaut Courtois, once of Chelsea, save Messi’s penalty.

Perhaps the one storyline that went unnoticed was Hakimi’s presence on the Parc des Princes pitch.

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Hakimi all over the place

The 23-year-old joined Los Blancos as a child and rose through the ranks until reaching the senior set-up in 2017.

He only made a handful of appearances for the La Liga outfit before moving to Borussia Dortmund.

In Germany, the full-back began to establish himself as one of the game’s brightest talents.

Inter Milan recognised this potential and signed him in 2020.

After helping Antonio Conte to the Serie A title that season, Hakimi was snapped up by another heavyweight.

PSG acquired his services for £51.3m (Sky Sports) last July.

They beat Chelsea to the punch, who had tried repeatedly to land the Moroccan but failed in their financial bid.

Photo by Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images

Chlsea missed their chance

The Blues might regret not pushing harder for Hakimi having seen his latest European showing.

“If not, he’s one of the best,” responded Leboeuf when asked about the full-back’s status in the sport.  

“He showed after two minutes, there was a deep ball from Real Madrid behind Hakimi.

“We thought Vinicius (Jr.) was fast, Hakimi is faster. After two minutes, he showed Vinicius that it would be a very tough 90 minutes for him.

“Hakimi is absolutely fantastic. Just came back from the AFCON.

“He showed to the world how talented he is.

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

“Nobody has doubts about that but he just confirmed today that defensively, he did the job. He pushed Vinicius to defend because was attacking too.”

Hakimi kept Vinicius in his pocket pretty much all evening, carrying him up field whenever he went on the offensive.

He might receive a frosty reception when he returns to Bernabeu next month, but for now, the right-back is a Parisian hero.  

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.