Manuel Akanji Biography
Manuel Akanji (Manuel Obafemi Akanji) is a Swiss footballer born on 19th July 1995 in Wiesendangen, Switzerland. He plays as a defender for Borussia Dortmund. He is among the 23 man squad in the Switzerland national football team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Akanji likes to carry out his defensive duties at centre-back, but, comfortable playing with either foot, has also been successfully deployed on the right and left. Standing at 1.87m and weighing 85kgs, he also boasts impressive speed. His speciality however, is bringing the ball out from the back, be it via well-timed runs or long, accurate passing.
Manuel Akanji Age
- Akanji was born on 19th July 1995 (23 years as of 2018)
Manuel Akanji Net worth
- He has an estimated net worth of more than $2 million.
Manuel Akanji Height, Ethnicity, Nationality
Manuel Akanji Height: 1.86m/ 6ft 1 inche
Manuel Akanji Ethnicity: Caucasian
Manuel Akanji Nationality: Swiss
Manuel Akanji Family
His father is a financial expert from Nigeria – was an amateur footballer in his younger years and still plays the sport in his spare time. Her mother is Swiss and a former tennis player.
He also has siblings who are athletic, his eldest sister, Michelle, is an athlete and Sarah, plays football for FC Winterthur in the Swiss second division.
Manuel Akanji Father
His father is Nigerian, a financial expert, he was amateur footballer in his younger years and still plays the sport in his spare time.
Manuel Akanji Tattoo
He has a tattoo on his left forearm bearing the words, “Prove them wrong,” in English. He explained the tattoo saying, “This saying has been a motto of mine for a long time, I had the tattoo done when I was injured as at times it wasn’t clear if I would ever fully heal.”
Manuel Akanji Career
He began his youth career with the local club in Wiesendangen. In 2007 she joined FC Winterthur as a youth team player. He played for the Under-18 team and later with their second team. In the 2014–15
Challenge League he was in Winterthur’s starting eleven, having played two games for them during the previous season.
Manuel Akanji Basel
It was announced on 15th April 2015 that Akanji would transfer to Basel for the 2015–16 Super League season. He made his Swiss Super League debbut on 26th September 2015 being substituted in against FC Lugano.
At the end of the 2015–16 Super League season Akanji won the Swiss Super League championship and at the end of the 2016–17 Super League season for the second time.
As Swiss Champions, Basel qualified for the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League and started in the Group stage. Akanji played in all six games over the full 90 minutes and helped the team finish in second group
position, thus qualifying for the next round.
Manuel Akanji Liverpool
In December 2017 Liverpool were monitoring Manuel Akanji, Basel’s young defender, though may face competition from Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund are understood to be keen on signing Akanji in the forthcoming January transfer window, while Liverpool are more open to the idea of a summer move.
Manuel Akanji Borussia Dortmund
On 15 January 2018, Basel announced that Akanji had transferred to Borussia Dortmund. This was during the winter transfer window for a reported fee of 18 million euros. He signed a four and a half year
contract dated until June 2022.
Manuel Akanji International Career
Akanji made two appearances for the Switzerland U-20 national team. His debut was on 7 September 2014 in the 0–0 draw against the German U-20 national team. From 2014, he was a member of the Switzerland U-21 team and made his debut for them on 26 March in the 0–3 defeat by the
Italian U-21 team.
He also played for the Switzerland national football team making his debut on 9th June 2017 in the 2-0 win against Faroe Islands in the World Cup qualification.
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Borussia Dortmund pulled off a masterstroke by singing Manuel Akanji in January
Manuel Akanji’s development in the last six months has shown why Borussia Dortmund pulled off a real bargain when they signed him in January.
You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t heard about Manuel Akanji when he signed for Borussia Dortmund. The decision to replace Marc Bartra with the Swiss youngster surprised many Dortmund fans. But since then he has proved just why Michael Zorc was so insistent on signing him.
Manuel Akanji cost Borussia Dortmund 22 million euros. There were doubts about whether he could fit in at Dortmund and improve their faltering defense. But the 22 year old slotted in seamlessly and gave the defense a real lift. He even played at left back and did a great job. And his perfomances at the World Cup have seen his stock rise even further.
The former Basel man has shown great composure, athleticism and strength in both of Switzerland’s group games so far. As a result, the unfancied Swiss are closing in on the round of 16.
Akanji is pacier than most full backs and is great at one vs one situations. He reads the game well and rarely ever over commits or gets fazed by big players. Akanji is also great on the ball, making him the perfect modern day defender. That has helped Switzerland against the mighty Brazil and Serbia. And it’ll help Borussia Dortmund in their bid to topple Bayern.
With Sokratis set to leave this summer, Borussia Dortmund should look to build their defense around Manuel Akanji. If he can continue his rapid progress and if Dortmund can manage to keep him at the club, there is no doubt that he can become a world class defender for years to come.
Manuel Akanji Interview
Interviewer: Manuel Akanji, at the Swiss Football Awards, you were chosen as the 2017 Credit Suisse Rookie of the Year. Were you expecting to win?
Manuel Akanji: Not for a moment. After all, I was only able to play in the second half of the season due to a torn cruciate ligament. But on the eve of the awards ceremony, my fellow players on the national football team were going, “We bet the award goes to you.”
Interviewer: Your buddy, Breel Embolo, was given that honor two years ago. Has he offered his congratulations yet?
Manuel Akanji: Not yet. He probably needs to get over the fact that I now have as many awards as he does (laughs). But I’ll hear from him soon. We talk on the phone every week.
Interviewer: Was that your first award?
Manuel Akanji: At the age of 11, I won a national competition for young athletes, but that was for track and field. Besides that, I also used to play tennis. I didn’t start concentrating on football until I was 13.
Interviewer: Were you born with a talent for sports?
Manuel Akanji: Seems so. My dad was an amateur football player, and my older sister, Sara, played in the National League A until she established a women’s team for FC Winterthur last year. I watch those games whenever I can manage.
Interviewer: How do you react to stupid comments about women’s football?
Manuel Akanji: I don’t, because I never hear any. I think those days are over. Women’s football has gained quite a following.
Interviewer: Did your parents push you to get a real job?
Manuel Akanji: Not at all. They always supported my passion for sports. Yet, it was important to them that I finish my commercial apprenticeship. And I did that last year.
Interviewer: Why did you wait until you were 20 to switch from the Challenge League to FC Basel?
Manuel Akanji: As a junior, I was an average player. I never thought I would have a big career; I played just for the fun of it. When I hit 17, I had a growth spurt, and that boosted my performance. It was only then that I realized my potential.
Interviewer: Was it an advantage for you to mature in Winterthur?
Manuel Akanji: Maybe. I was able to develop my skills at my own pace. They let me play even when I was having a tough time instead of simply cutting me from the team. Big clubs have fierce competition, and many talented players are left behind. What’s amazing is that I am the only one my age on the senior national team.
Interviewer: What was the most emotional moment of the past season?
Manuel Akanji: The first match after my long injury was really emotional. As soon as I stood on the field, I had a tremendous feeling of euphoria, and any fear of another injury subsided. Of course, the cup victory against FC Sion was also something special.
Interviewer: In June, you had your debut on the national team. How were you received by the team?
Manuel Akanji: They welcomed me wholeheartedly. I’ve even been allowed to have a go on the Playstation and got to show the old hands how it’s really done.
Interviewer: Your father is from Nigeria. Have they asked you to play for their national team?
Manuel Akanji: Not that I’ve heard. Switzerland made an effort to keep me, so it was crystal clear that I would play here.
Interviewer: Who has been the strongest opposing player of your career so far?
Manuel Akanji: Breel Embolo. When we lost with Winterthur against FC Basel during the cup match in 2014, he mercilessly showed me how much I still needed to work on myself.
Interviewer: And who was the toughest?
Manuel Akanji: Simone Rapp from FC Thun. He is a giant who goes after every high ball and likes to provoke other players. You learn an awful lot in heated duels like that.
Interviewer: Do you always have yourself under control?
Manuel Akanji: I stay pretty cool. Last season, I only got two yellow cards.
Interviewer: The tattoo on your lower arm says “Prove them wrong.”
Manuel Akanji: That has been my motto for a long time now. I got the tattoo while I was on the injured list for almost a year. At the time, it was unclear whether I would ever completely recover and make it back on the team.
Interviewer: FC Basel’s former athletic director, Georg Heitz, defined the demands placed on a central defender by saying: “Physique, speed, dueling and heading skills, position play, launching attacks, and preferably the ability to play with both feet.” Can you do all that?
Manuel Akanji: I am pretty fast and okay at tackling and attacking. Besides that, I am practically two-footed. The things I could improve are my heading skills on offense and tactics on defense.
Interviewer: Georg Heinz also said, “If Akanji stays healthy, then he has limitless potential.” Do expectations that high put you under pressure?
Manuel Akanji: Why would they? I don’t feel any pressure at all. Things will happen the way they are meant to.
Interviewer: What do you expect from yourself?
Manuel Akanji: I want to stay healthy, go with Switzerland to the World Cup, and someday play for Manchester United.
Interviewer: And what advice do you have for young players dreaming of a career as professional athletes?
Manuel Akanji: Work hard every day, but never stop having fun playing the game. And, most importantly, have a life outside the playing field! You need to relax from time to time, get together with friends, pursue different hobbies, and clear your mind.
Source: Credit Suisse