Inter’s march to the top of the league at the weekend was a long time coming. Juventus dropping points against Sassuolo was a help, but Inter are due credit as well. But there were some negatives in their 2-1 win over SPAL too.
Lautaro Martinez’s brace was a huge positive. The Argentine got his 13th of the season, with eight coming in the Serie A. Marcelo Brozovic was another key player in the win, with the Croatian making five tackles in the game. He also played the second-highest number of passes in the game- 74, whilst playing four key passes as well (via Whoscored).
But Valentino Lazaro was a disappointment. It wasn’t the first time Inter fans would hear this. The Austrian didn’t have the best of games, as a natural left wing-back in Cristiano Biraghi came in for him.
It was Biraghi who was rested with the view of some tough games coming up. Inter face Roma, Barcelona, Fiorentina, Napoli, and Atalanta in the next few games. Resting Biraghi made sense, as the former La Viola man had played in the last five of the six league games for the Nerazzurri.
Lazaro is a right wing-back originally and came to the club from Hertha Berlin in the summer. His fee of €22 million meant that the defender would go on to play a big role at the club. But so far, he has featured only four times in the Serie A. Antonio Candreva is the regular on the right wing-back position in Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 system.
Against SPAL, Lazaro didn’t have the best of games. He played only 21 accurate passes in total, playing one key pass until Biraghi came on in the 75th minute. Lazaro did complete one dribble, but it came in the first few minutes of the game (via Whoscored). His influence faded, as the game went on.
It became clear that Lazaro isn’t first-team material yet. Even though he can play often, he can’t start over Biraghi or Kwadwo Asamoah.
But his previous game was impressive. Against Verona, Lazaro played on the right and would finish the game with one assist and three key passes in the game. The former Hertha man also had one successful tackle (via Whoscored).
He did well against Bologna too, adding pace and more penetration to the side. It was a complete performance, as Lazaro won three aerial duels and made three successful tackles. He completed two dribbles and played four key passes in the game (via Whoscored).
After that performance, Conte saw something in Lazaro that made them buy the player. He told in the post-game press conference (via FIF):
“We signed him [Lazaro] because he has important qualities that we need/ I now find myself with an extra arrow in my bow which is important. I always try to make the best selections based on the team we are facing, and am fortunate to be dealing with such good players.”
These performances show that there’s a player in there. And if he has to play, it is on the right of the back/midfield five. That was his position at Hertha too last season, when he was a constant on the right of Pal Dardai’s side. He got three goals and seven assists, often playing on the right-wing too.
He is still only 23 and playing his first season in Italy- a more tactical league than the Bundesliga. Any player who comes into the Serie A deserves more time, especially when there is a defensive demand on him. And it is only a matter of time before Lazaro improves, takes himself to another level and becomes Candreva’s successor at the San Siro.