Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji's quick-thinking has helped Switzerland reach the UEFA Euro 2020 knockout rounds. - © imago
Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji's quick-thinking has helped Switzerland reach the UEFA Euro 2020 knockout rounds. - © imago

Manuel Akanji: Who is the Borussia Dortmund and Switzerland defender tasked with keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet?

Borussia Dortmund's Manuel Akanji has the brawn and the brains to match Kylian Mbappe when Switzerland take on France in the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16. profiles a defender with some very impressive career numbers...

Manuel Akanji

Age: 25
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Centre-back
Country: Switzerland (32 caps)

Key stats

Akanji was born in the town of Wiesendangen in the district of Winterthur and took his first professional steps at the same club as his sister. At 19, he was snapped up by Basel and quickly began to build an impressive reputation with the Swiss Super League giants, making eight top-flight appearances despite an injury-hit maiden campaign with the club. Picking up a league winners' medal in his first season, Akanji subsequently featured 18 times in all competitions as Basel won a league and cup double in 2016/17. The right-footed centre-back featured in 28 games in all competitions prior to completing his switch to BVB in January 2018.

Across 122 competitive appearances for Dortmund, including 93 in the Bundesliga, Akanji has lifted the 2019/20 DFL Supercup and 2020/21 DFB Cup. He ranked in the top five league-wide for passes completed in 2019/20 and 2020/21, and started all three of Switzerland's Group A outings at Euro 2020. To date, the 32-time senior international has played his part in 80 to-nil pro matches for club and country, whilst scoring 11 times.

Plays a bit like: Vincent Kompany

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 6'1" and weighing 85 kilograms, he also boasts impressive speed.

His specialty, however, is bringing the ball out from the back, be it via well-timed runs or long, accurate passing in a manner not too dissimilar to retired Anderlecht, Hamburg Manchester City and Belgium defender, Vincent Kompany.

Akanji boasts all the necessary atttributes of the modern ball-playing centre-back. - imago images/Laci Perenyi

Did you know?

It's more than just Akanji's defending that adds up. The Dortmund defender showcased his ability to perform mental arithmetic faster than a calculator when appearing on a Swiss TV talk show.

The Switzerland sentry wowed the audience as he answered a mind-bending sum before the Sportpanorama presenter could even start typing.

Asked about his remarkable talent, Akanji revealed that he used to do maths equations with vehicle license plates.

Watch: Manuel Akanji - a maths whizz!

What they're saying

"The defensive partnership between Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji just gets better and better. They're the heartbeat of this team." - Dortmund captain Marco Reus

"It does us the world of good whenever Manuel plays. He oozes confidence and tries to marshal the defence." - Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc

"It's clear that Manuel's a really good footballer with real pace. We knew he could play left-back, and he didn't disappoint." - former Dortmund coach Peter Stöger after Akanji deputised for Marcel Schmelzer at left-back in a Bundesliga match against Bayer Leverkusen