How Have Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sánchez & Co Handled Inter Milan?
Eyebrows were raised amongst English fans over the course of the 2019/20 campaign when Italian giants Inter Milan hoarded some of the Premier League’s ageing talent. In Antonio Conte’s first season in charge, the club have spent a huge £158million pounds on transfers.
Of this, over £80 million has been used to bring Romelu Lukaku, Ashley Young, Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sánchez and Victor Moses to the San Siro.
Antonio Conte has breathed down the necks of titans Juventus this season, with Inter chasing their first Scudetto since 2011. While Conte hasn’t quite been able to guide them to the top spot, with Inter Milan sitting 2nd and 8 points off of leaders Juventus as of this publishing, it feels the right time to check in on how some of the former Premier League heavyweights have handled life in Italy.
Eriksen’s form has yet to be brought to the limelight, but he has struggled. The Danish attacking playmaker moved for £18million from Tottenham at the end of January. Since then he has featured 11 times for Inter, primarily as an attacking midfielder in a 3-5-2.
Having started just 7 times, he has scored 1 goal and managed 2 assists in 594 minutes. On the face of it, this may look like a decent return. However, Conte has criticised Eriksen’s performances. There is even talk of Eriksen already being up for sale this summer, with Conte recently stating that he must make decisions for “the best of the team” in response to questions about the Dane’s game time.
This is because Eriksen has either failed to start or been subbed off in all of his appearances bar one. Despite his man of the match display in a 2-1 home win vs Sampdoria, Conte has clearly seen Eriksen as having little impact on the game. 4 out of his 7 starts have seen him subbed off when Inter were drawing or losing.
Eriksen could yet turn into a great signing for Inter. Hopefully, he can end this season strongly, with still 4 games left to play in Serie A.
Ashley Young looked like he was finished as a defender for Manchester United. In the first half of this season, Young kept just 2 clean sheets in 10 starts for the side. Few were sad to see the 35-year-old leave in the winter transfer window, joining Inter for a paltry £3.4million.
Now though, Young looks like a man reborn. He has made 13 appearances since his move in January and has been used intelligently as an attacking left wing-back. He has scored 3 goals and added 3 assists. While his defensive stats look more lacklustre, as he is barely attempting a tackle a game, it is his stats in the final 3rd where Young shines.
According to FBREF, Ashley Young is completing 3.5 shot-creating-actions per 90. (Before the Roma game)This is when a following a player’s touch, and the next player either shoots or passes to someone else who shoots.
This is superior to Adama Traoré, who has only managed 3.3 SCC p90 for Wolves this season. In recent games, Young has particularly impressed, as he scored a superb goal against Torino last Monday. Young looks like he could be a crucial player next season, as well as in Inter’s second-leg Europa League tie against Getafe in August.
Sánchez is another former Manchester United player who made his home in northern Italy this season. While only on loan, Inter have had to pay less than half of Sánchez’s monster salary that sees him earn £12million a year. United looked happy to see him leave as well, with their financial blackhole scoring just 5 goals in 45 appearances.
Worse still, he was averaging a goal contribution in League play just once every 216 minutes. This isn’t much better than Daniel James, who has averaged a goal or an assist once per 254 minutes this season in his debut campaign. Yet Sánchez is another player to be christened with the magic of Antonio Conte.
Using the same metric, Sánchez this season has scored or assisted once every 66 minutes in Serie A.(Before the Roma game). He scored in Inter’s 4-0 victory over Spal on Thursday, doubling his tally of goals to go along with 7 assists. He added another assist to his name against Roma, which takes his overall assist tally to 8.
Although he was injured from October through to January missing 14 games, he has improved dramatically. Since the restart in Serie A, Sánchez has partnered Lautaro Martínez up top in place of the injured Romelu Lukaku. He has featured in 9 games since the 21st of June, scoring 2 of his goals and assisting 7 times in this period.
Sánchez looked especially sharp against SPAL. It is clear that the slower pace of Serie A combined with the enforced break has helped him rebuild his fitness. You can expect the once-mercurial Chilean to begin re-dominating headlines, as he proves that he is far from finished at the top level.
Another transfer from England has been the move of Chelsea-owned Victor Moses. The Nigerian moved on loan from London to Inter in January, with limited success.
In 2016/17 under Antonio Conte, Victor Moses was one of the stars as Chelsea romped to the title. While he was winning 55% of his tackles in defence, he scored 3 goals and assisted twice from right wing-back. Even more impressively, Moses was completing 1.6 dribbles a game along with 1.3 shots/90 (WhoScored League).
Fast forward through to 2020 and sadly, Moses has failed to reignite this form. He has made just 5 appearances. Although he has managed 2 assists, he has also suffered 2 injuries since moving to Italy. The 29-year-old does not look set to be a starter next season either, should he choose to stay.
Inter Milan have recently completed the stunning signing of Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, the right-back who has excelled both in defence and on the wing for Dortmund this season. After scoring 5 goals and assisting 10 in the Bundesliga, Moses cannot expect to be anything more than back-up for Hakimi if he makes his stay permanent.
Lukaku was stealing headlines earlier in the season, as he was playing superbly in the early weeks of 19/20. In the 10 Serie A matches following his £58million move from Old Trafford, Lukaku scored 7 goals.
Since then, Lukaku has kept up his form for the most part. He has added 14 goals and 2 assists in his subsequent 22 matches for Inter. The dominant Belgian has also played the second-most minutes in the entire squad and has made the second-most starts (30). If not for a recent injury, Lukaku’s goal tally might have increased further.
Adding 4 goals & 3 assists in 6 Champions League and Europa League matches means that Lukaku has undoubtedly been Inter’s star signing of the season. With only Cristiano Ronaldo and Ciro Immobile scoring more goals in the League, 27-year-old Lukaku looks ready to propel Inter Milan to another title challenge next season.
Written by Alex Barker | Feature Image by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images
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