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In the absence of Messi, Hakimi is the new figure of PSG

In the absence of Messi, Hakimi is the new figure of PSG

As Paris Saint-Germain fans eagerly await Argentine star Lionel Messi for his new club’s first goal, they have witnessed the extraordinary scoring ability of Achraf Hakimi beforehand.

Hakimi is a right back, but his definition is worthy of a forward. The 22-year-old Moroccan made that clear again Wednesday night by contributing both goals in a tight 2-1 victory while visiting Metz.

His last-minute goal kept PSG’s winning streak alive and the club are aiming for their eighth straight win in the French league when they host Montpellier on Saturday.

Hakimi’s knack for moving the ball, dribbling and shooting on goal has made him seem more like a winger at times. He has scored three times in seven league games for PSG. Last season, his seven goals helped Inter snatch the Serie A title from the mighty Juventus.

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Even a (i) was astonishing when PSG paid 60 million euros ($ 70.3 million) to add him to their ranks – a high price for a defender, and even more for a right-back.

The arrival of Messi from Barcelona was the highlight of a period between seasons of enormous recruiting tasks, but so far Hakimi appears to be the best signing of the Parisian team.

The defender of the Moroccan team is fast, athletic, elusive and strong. His fitness level allows him to go to the front and return back to his position on defense.

“I feel very happy for him, he is 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 for the wings.”

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PSG left-back Juan Bernat is close to returning to the lineup after a one-year absence with a serious knee injury.

Once the Spaniard does, PSG will have two of the most dangerous attacking backs in European football.

French clubs are expecting fans to behave this weekend after three violent incidents that drew attention at the start of the season, and put pressure on the league to resolve the issue.

The Marseille fans fought off their Angers counterparts at the end of Wednesday’s game.

That came just days after supporters of rivals Lens and Lille collided at halftime in chaotic scenes where seats blew up and were ripped from the stands.

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There were also serious incidents in the Nice-Marseille duel last month.

There are also two matches this weekend under alert for potential fights.

Nice visits Saint-Etienne on Saturday; a day later, second place Marseille hosts fourth Lens at the Velodrome Stadium in a match between clubs from the south and north. (AP)

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