Repost from here
After Inter recently fixed the long-term problem I wrote about a while ago, the regista, we are now re-focusing our attention on an area that was firmly neglected in the recent transfer window, defense.
I would say the biggest issue that has come up at Inter in the last few weeks is in the defense, the back four. Between D’ambrosio and Nagatomo being out, duties have fallen to Dodo (who is clearly out of favour for his lack of defensive capabilities), Santon and Campagnaro to pick up the slack. On top of this, the shaky centre-back pairing has also been an issue. And the recent run of results – for example the 3-3 against Celtic, or indeed the Longo/Carrizo OG for Cagliari brings this back in to focus.
Davide Santon, the only defense move in the winter market
It is not the intention of this post to analyse Jeison Murillo – incoming defender from Udinese-owned Granada – whom I have not yet seen play, though by all accounts holds at least a lot of potential – but rather, I want to look to our own back line. Juan Jesus and Ranocchia have both had hot and cold spells this season – I don’t want to delve too heavily into the blame game but what everyone can uniformly agree on is the lack of consistency – and in Mancini we have a manager who really brought around some quality in Inter’s defense, instilling above-class performances from Walter Samuel, Ivan Cordoba and Marco Materazzi.
If there is one thing we all know about Mancini, it is his love for building a team from solid foundations. He never mastered flair or creativity beyond Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his last spell at Inter – with three DMs and a solid defense being firmly the backbone of his team – but it is looking more and more like that will be less of an issue this time round. With Brozovic, Kovacic, Guarin, Shaqiri, we have a lot more attacking flair and output than we used to under Mancini.
However, the other end of the pitch is now the issue. D’ambrosio has really grown with Mancini and Mazzarri in my opinion to probably the most solid full-back at Inter, and whilst often he still leaves a lot to be desired going forward, he certainly knows how to put in a solid shift at the back, which is now our biggest problem. What’s the use of scoring 3 if we’re then going to concede 3, or 4? Mancini, I have no doubt, realises this and will be focusing our attentions in the summer towards rectifying this. Murillo represents one CB signing already – and considering we really don’t have a single solid centre back (Vidic, resurgent of late, will undoubtedly take a long time to work off the black mark he got for his season-head performances) to rely on – it wouldn’t be a surprise if we went to get another one, or even two. Ranocchia, who will be extending his expiring contract soon, will probably stay – but I don’t believe he deserves to be an automatic starter. Juan Jesus doesn’t seem to have progressed much in the last couple of years, and I think fans would be firmly in favour of his sale if we must lose one of our big talented young players to raise cash. Vidic, whilst more consistent of late, still commands a needlessly huge salary considering his rather limited contributions to date in this campaign.
Jeison Murillo, incoming defensive reinforcement
With Jeison Murillo coming in, I think we still need a new Centre Back. Let’s broadly assume that Vidic, Jonathan, Campagnaro and perhaps Nagatomo and JJ will be leaving this summer. That means we want 3 new defenders ideally – a CB, RB, LB. I don’t overly want to suggest names, but I’d like to see us try to get a similarly young, talented young centre back – I only know of him through Football Manager so I don’t suggest him as a genuine possibility, but someone like Balanta? For the wing back locations I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t want Santon to be our first choice LB.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the defense as we wrap up the season – there’s clearly a lot of work to be done there and I think Mancini, more so than any manager we’ve had since Benitez or possibly even Mourinho, is a man who is keen on a very solid defense. With the attack and midfield progressively shaping up to be more like what we can imagine him utilising full time, the focus will correctly be on the weakest part of the team now – the back four.