Tuesday, May 28News That Matters

Lionel Messi “surprised” Hakimi with dressing room behaviour

Lionel Messi has booked his place in the World Cup final – but Achraf Hakimi’s side Morocco lost to France.

Messi, meanwhile, inspired Argentina to a win over Croatia to book their spot in Sunday’s showcase at the Lusail Stadium.

Speaking to French outlet L’Equipe last year, a few weeks after Messi’s move from Barcelona, Hakimi declared it a “dream” to play with the Argentine star.

“For Messi to leave Barca, like everyone else, I didn’t expect it,” said Hakimi. “And when I heard you were coming here, what can I say? A dream for me!

“I played with many great players and the only one I missed was Messi! I am proud to evolve with such a good footballer. To progress, I will pay attention to how he trains, how he plays.

“It will grow the team and each of the players that make it up. We speak the same language, in addition, little by little we are getting to know each other.”

Hakimi added: “Building a technical relationship with him is easy! I give him the ball, I run and he will put it where it belongs! I was surprised by the way he behaved, he is simple, quiet.”

In the meantime, Hakimi has been backed to stop another teammate, Mbappe, in the World Cup semi-final.

“He knows Mbappe better than me, he trains with him every day,” Morocco manager Walid Regragui said of the right-back. “I’m sure he’s better placed than me to know Kylian. I’m not going to set up any tactical plan to counter Mbappe.”

Speaking earlier in the competition, Hakimi said close friend Mbappe “knew” Morocco were capable of before they emerged as the surprise package of the tournament.

“He knew what we were capable of,” Hakimi told Marca before the Spain game. “We always talk because with friends you always talk, we are always in contact and playing.

“I do think he is comfortable. People talk a little too much. They don’t know him, he’s a good boy and he’s comfortable. He also wants to do great things with his team and he is super pleased.”

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