The rise of the inverted winger and the inside forwards have meant that fullbacks today essentially play the role of providing width, stretching the play and putting in delicious crosses that traditional wingers did in the past. And while there are many who are excelling in that role, none more so than Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Real Madrid loanee Achraf Hakimi.
The two outstanding youngsters have already won the Champions League with their respective sides, and at just 21, are among football’s brightest prospect. While Hakimi played a backup role at Real Madrid and moved to Dortmund on loan to gain some much-needed playing time under his belt, Alexander-Arnold is one of the mainstays in Liverpool’s Champions League and Premier League winning side.
Both fullbacks have had excellent campaigns with their respective sides and their attacking output from the fullback position has been sensational over the course of the campaign.
While they are both incredible right-backs, which of the two is better? We assess:
Both Hakimi and Alexander-Arnold are vital cogs in their team’s attack.
The duo have identical goal contributions in the Bundesliga and the Premier League, respectively, with the Moroccan scoring five and assisting 10, while the England international has scored three and assisted 12.
Hakimi is excellent in finding open spaces and has great vision in the box while Alexander-Arnold’s crossing ability is widely considered ‘generational’ and his ability on set-pieces have drawn comparisons to the great Roberto Carlos.
The Liverpool right-back’s quick corner against Barcelona in the second leg of their semifinal at Anfield in 2019 that caught the defence napping and got Liverpool the all-important fourth goal that sent them to the UEFA Champions League final is now the stuff of folklore.
Hakimi, though, made the Champions League stage his own this season, scoring four times from the wingback position for Dortmund.
The German team’s short, quick, and methodical passing has ensured that Hakimi’s pass completion rate (85.37) is higher than Alexander-Arnold’s (74.42), whose game involves a lot of crossing.
The Real Madrid loanee’s involvement in areas in and around the box has also meant that the Moroccan, with 18 big chances created, edges out the Liverpool right-back who has 16.
It is their ability as defenders that has drawn a lot of attention this season.
Neither player is in the top tier of defensive fullbacks as they are heavily inclined towards participating in the attack rather than manning the wingers on their flanks.
Still, Hakimi has made 99 tackles in the Bundesliga this season while Alexander-Arnold has made a meagre 47. The Liverpool right-back is slightly better at reading the game and averages 1.2 interceptions per game compared to Hakimi’s 0.9 and has also committed five fewer fouls than the Dortmund wingback who has 25.
Alexander-Arnold or Hakimi?
It’s pretty even between the two at this point in their careers, however, Trent has won the Premier League and the Champions League as a prominent part of the Liverpool side while Hakimi featured just twice for Real Madrid in their successful Champion League campaign in 2017-18. Thus, the Englishman clearly has the edge over Hakimi.
The Moroccan though is reportedly seeking to a move away from the Bernabeu, with Inter Milan just close to securing his signature and a permanent starting role in Antonio Conte’s side might be what propels Hakimi over Alexander-Arnold in this battle between two generation talents.