Inter have always been on the lookout for wing-backs ever since Antonio Conte came in last summer. They’ve signed a lot of them too, as Conte has succeeded in making multiple changes in the team that Luciano Spalletti had last season. But the links with Hector Bellerin show that the club does need an injection at wing-back once again.
Conte did sign Valentino Lazaro and Cristiano Biraghi in the summer transfer window. While Lazaro arrived on loan from Fiorentina, Brazilian full-back Dalbert was moved to La Viola in a swap deal. Lazaro arrived from Hertha Berlin but was seen as a back-up to Antonio Candreva.
The aged Kwadwo Asamoah did start as the club’s first-choice left wing-back, but Biraghi came into the first-team later on. Candreva did score in the first game of the season against Lecce and managed to keep his place. Lazaro struggled and an injury sustained by Asamoah kept him out for some time, as Danilo D’Ambrosio often did a reliable job on either side.
What Conte likes in his wing-backs is attacking grit as Candreva has brought to the plate. The former Lazio man has enjoyed a resurgence under Conte, contributing to seven goals in Serie already. That attacking need is one reason why Ashley Young came in on a cut-price deal from Manchester United. Victor Moses has come in too, adding reliability due to his familiarity to Conte’s system.
Young grabbed an assist from his first cross in an Inter shirt, helping Lautaro Martinez to score against Cagliari. He has brought the crossing ability to the plate that Conte likes, while Moses adds that Candreva-like sprinting ability.
That shows why a move for Bellerin makes a lot of sense. The Spaniard adds immense thrust from the right side of the pitch, having completed 1.3 dribbles per game this season. He has recovered from a serious ACL injury this season, but the first half of last season was an impressive one for him.
He had picked up five assists in 19 games, before succumbing to the injury. It just shows how effective he can be in attack. He’s been dribbled past 1.6 times per game and it shows that he’s more of an attacking wing-back than a defensive one. Young and Moses were attacking players back in the days before transitioning into wing-backs or full-backs. Bellerin- like them, is known to be a very attacking full-back.
Back in 2016, Arsene Wenger had heaped praise on Bellerin for his performances. The Frenchman said: “Of course [he is among the best]. Look at the defensive and offensive numbers. The fact that he is only 20 years old, there is a lot more to come from him.”
Unlike Moses, Young, Candreva or Asamoah, Bellerin is younger and offers a long-term solution to Conte. He fits how he wants the team to play in the wide areas and with the injury troubles behind him, he can be a very resourceful player for any team.
Inter’s policy of signing wing-backs has been rather short-term. Biraghi is likely to go back to Fiorentina while Lazaro is loaned out to Newcastle. It shows that the wing-back positions are far from secure, with Moses also on loan and Young not the long-term option. Bellerin would go against that logic and would fit into the demands perfectly.