Defender Achraf Hakimi shows PSG fans his scoring prowess

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PSG's Achraf Hakimi, left, reacts after scoring his side's second goal in the French Ligue 1 soccer match between FC Metz and Paris Saint-Germain at Saint Symphorien stadium in Metz, east of France, Wednesday September 22, 2021 (AP Photo / Christophe Ena)

PSG’s Achraf Hakimi, left, reacts after scoring his side’s second goal in the French Ligue 1 soccer match between FC Metz and Paris Saint-Germain at Saint Symphorien stadium in Metz, east of France, Wednesday September 22, 2021 (AP Photo / Christophe Ena)

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As Paris Saint-Germain fans eagerly await superstar Lionel Messi’s first goal for his new club, they have already witnessed the remarkable prowess of Achraf Hakimi.

Hakimi is a right-back, but his finish is worthy of a striker. He showed it yet again on Wednesday night with the two goals in a relentless 2-1 win at Metz.

His last-minute winner ensured the continuation of PSG’s winning streak, and the club can claim an eighth consecutive league win if they beat Montpellier at home on Saturday.

Hakimi’s goals were fun to watch as they ranged from excellent technique to excellent composure.

The first was a cushioned volley to the side at an angle Messi would have been proud of; the second was a run followed by an accurate curling shot in the lower corner.

Hakimi also hit the crossbar with another shot after making a meteoric run from the right flank.

He capped his PSG debut last month with a goal after just 18 minutes in a similar fashion, with a marauding run to the right followed by an angled shot that buckled the goalkeeper and flew under the bar transverse.

Hakimi’s running, dribbling and shooting make him look like a winger at times. He has scored three goals in seven league games with PSG. Last season, his seven goals helped Inter Milan claim the league title against Juventus.

Still, eyebrows were raised when PSG paid € 60million ($ 70.3million) to buy him – a steep price for a defender, let alone a right-back.

The arrival of Messi from Barcelona was the culmination of a huge offseason recruiting drive, but so far Hakimi looks like PSG’s best signing.

The 22-year-old Moroccan international is quick, athletic, elusive and strong. His level of physical fitness allows him to rush forward in attack and retreat quickly to defend.

While midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has got off to a slow start since arriving from Liverpool, and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma battles veteran Keylor Navas for the No.1 shirt, Hakimi has immediately settled in and has makes the position his own.

“I’m very happy for him, he’s a good boy,” PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said of Hakimi. “He brings a lot to the team, not just his goals but all the work he does on his side.”

PSG left-back Juan Bernat is set to make a comeback after a year-long absence with a serious knee injury.

When he does, it will give PSG two of the most dangerous attacking full-backs in European football.

DO YOU BEHAVIOR

French clubs are hopeful their supporters will behave this weekend after three high-profile incidents of violence mar the start of the season and put pressure on the league to resolve the issue.

Marseille supporters fought with their Angers counterparts at the final whistle on Wednesday.

It came just days after supporters of northern rivals Lens and Lille clashed at halftime in chaotic scenes with seats torn and thrown.

The Nice-Marseille game last month also saw serious turmoil.

French Sports Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer urged football authorities to take tougher measures.

“We will have further discussions with the (French) league and the (national) federation to see what they plan to do,” he said Thursday on LCI television.

There are two games with potential hot spots this weekend.

Nice goes to Saint-Etienne on Saturday and Marseille, second, welcomes Lens, fourth, on Sunday at the Stade Vélodrome during a match between the south and north teams.


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