Perišić and Nainggolan step up to give Inter hope of life after Icardi

17 February at 22:30
Following Inter's 2 – 1 victory over Sampdoria, a stat was going around Twitter that in the 5 games Inter have played this season without Mauro Icardi they have won all 5. Upon a closer look, the sides Inter played on those 5 occasions, Bologna, Cagliari, Genoa, Rapid Wein and Sampdoria, are all sides that you would expect a Champion’s League hopeful to beat even without their first-choice striker.

However, while Inter fans should not get too carried away, perhaps there are signs that life after Icardi might not be so bad. With Lautaro in the side the team looks like more of a collective bunch. He is able to link play up better than his compatriot which was evident against Sampdoria and it benefited the team when they broke at pace on the opposition defence. It is not just his link up play but also his eye for a killer pass seems better than that of Icardi.

Against Parma last week he assisted Vecino, with a beautifully lobbed pass, who really should have scored. Although at this stage he doesn’t seem clinical enough, but he is young and could grow into the role as his confidence improves. The team could benefit from a player that links the front 3 and brings the wingers in to contribute with the goals, rather than a goal poacher like Icardi, who doesn’t offer the team much in the build-up and it has often been said that Inter have been playing with 10 men for some of their games this season.

Two other Inter players who have been in the headlines recently for the wrong reasons also seemingly appeared ‘freed’ from Icardi’s absence. Perišić put in arguably his best performance of the season against Sampdoria. The Croatian assisted D’Ambrosio’s opener, nearly scored a with a great header from a corner early on and also when his shot nearly fortunately squirmed through the ‘keeper’s body. He looked the winger won dazzled at the World Cup, constantly a threat on the left taking on his man and putting the ball into the danger zone. Nainggolan, who has been criticised for his performance this year got the winning goal and along with Perišić, was the best player on the pitch. He battled in midfield, won the ball back, chased and hassled the opposition and looked to link up with Perisic on numerous occasions as the Croat came in from the left.

While Icardi’s absence will surely affect his sides in front of goal. However, if Inter’s big names can step up and be themselves then Inter might start to play like a team again.

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