Inter Milan may be short defensively, but their real problems lie elsewhere

Having managed to go unbeaten in their first 16 games of the season, it is fair to say the wheels have now well and truly come off Inter’s campaign.

Not including an eventual Coppa Italia victory over Serie C outfit Pordenone after a penalty shootout, the Nerazzurri have not won a match since they dispatched Chievo 5-0 in San Siro at the beginning of December.

A considerable number of fans and pundits are happy to peddle the narrative that the Nerazzurri’s downturn in fortune is due to a lack of depth in the squad. In fact, they are quite right.

However, a great many of them are under the misapprehension that the defence is to blame and that having only three centre-backs has cost Luciano Spalletti’s team dearly.

While this has undeniably taken its toll on certain players from a physical point of view, it would be wrong to overlook the fact that Inter have only conceded more than one goal once during that barren spell, which resulted in a 3-1 loss at home to Udinese.

Besides that one match, Inter has been just as solid defensively as it was at the beginning of the season despite having to contend with injuries to the likes of Miranda and Danilo D’Ambrosio.

Indeed, it is clear that Spalletti is in greater need of reinforcements in both the midfield and attacking areas as his players have become predictable and all too easy to play against.

Opposition coaches have taken on board the fact that, to stop Inter, they must prevent the likes of Antonio Candreva and Ivan Perišić supplying talismanic captain Mauro Icardi with a regular supply of goalscoring chances.

In the opportunities afforded to him, Éder has proven to be a somewhat substandard replacement for the aforementioned trio and looks to be on his way out of Inter this month.

Andrea Pinamonti and Yann Karamoh both have the potential to be great players, but are not yet ready to deal with the pressure of playing in front of an expectant 55,000 plus crowd every week. Hence Walter Sabatini, Piero Ausilio and their lieutenants are scouring the market for someone more suitable for the so-called ‘vice-Icardi’ role.

The likes of João Mário and Marcelo Brozović have both struggled to convince in the trequartista position, which has led to greater emphasis being placed on getting the ball wide whenever possible.

This is why the club has been linked with moves for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Javier Pastore, as it is clear the team is missing a creative spark in the middle of the pitch.

While Borja Valero and Matías Vecino have both done solid enough jobs since arriving from Fiorentina last summer, but they lack the star quality Inter needs in order to be able to reach the next level and mount a sustained challenge for the Scudetto.

Borja’s physical levels have dropped in recent weeks, which is no surprise given the fact he is 32 years of age and the team has been so heavily reliant on him.

It is therefore clear that, while Inter are short at the back numerically speaking, it is in midfield and attack where Sabatini and Ausilio must look to strengthen this month.

Spalletti has made no secret of the fact he is badly in need of fresh options, which would inject the team with a new energy and allow him to be more tactically flexible into the bargain.

The pressure is on them to deliver the goods quickly, or they run a real risk of being back to square one come the end of the campaign.

 

Written by Jordan Russell

Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordRuss96 

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