Inter’s Champions League exit came as a blow to Antonio Conte. While it was never a huge priority, exiting the Champions League isn’t a good thing for any club – especially considering how Inter are challenging for the Scudetto and the top the Serie A table. But for the Nerazzurri, it was probably coming.

The lack of depth has been a consistent issue. And that is why going out of the Champions League could be an advantage for Inter: Juventus will play extra games and exert themselves, but Inter won’t. But it is due to this lack of depth that the club is drawing links with multiple players, most of them midfielders. And the latest link comes in the form of River Plate midfielder Cristian Ferreira.

The 20-year-old Argentine is one of the brightest midfield talents in South America currently. It will remind Inter of a certain Lautaro Martinez, but the case for Ferreira is a little different.

He has played five times in the Superliga this season, assisting once for River. Only one of them were starts and came when he was playing in an unnatural right-wing position for Marcelo Gallardo’s side.

Last season, Ferreira had played 21 games in all competitions for the Argentine giants. 14 of those appearances came in the league, six coming in the Copa Libertadores. But Ferreira did have five goals and two assists to his name, which are good numbers for a player who was 19 at that point.

Ferreira is an Argentina Under-20s international already as his debut came earlier this year and he has been growing in stature since then. He was part of the Argentine side in the Under-20s FIFA World Cup this past summer. He scored once and racked up two assists in that tournament, playing just two games.

It shows that the player does have the quality. But it is about getting the regular game time that allows him the platform to play more.

That is why the situation at Inter is interesting. Gallardo is known to have versatile players in the side, because of his flexible tactical approaches.

As things stand, Inter have a big lack of depth in midfield. The injuries to Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella have left them thin and there’s a lack of quality. While Matias Vecino and Borja Valero are good players, they aren’t as good as Sensi or Barella, and it has been evident in the loss to Barcelona and the draw against Fiorentina.

Ferreira’s best position is the central midfield spot. He is creative and has a good final product. Last season, he completed 2 dribbles per game and had 1.1 key passes per game to his name. And his creativity was crucial in that part of the pitch.

That is the sort of creativity Inter miss without Sensi. They can’t get hold of games in that position, looking as though opposition can play through them. That was what happened in the games against Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Barcelona, and even Fiorentina.

That is why they are constantly linked with Rodrigo de Paul too. He is a creative central midfielder who can play second-fiddle to Sensi and rotate constantly. Ferreira is that sort of player too, and like De Paul, he can play some more positions.

The fee in question (per Di Marzio) is $25 million which is similar to Lautaro’s fee. It would also represent a huge profit, if things go right.

Kaustubh Pandey