‘Play long-balls’ – Chelsea striker could be a key move for Conte’s Inter


Inter’s season started going wrong in 2020, despite some additions in the January transfer window. The defeats to Lazio and Juventus were probably the confirmations of it. Having said that, no one really expected Inter to win the league when the season started. But signing a player like Olivier Giroud can take them closer to the title.

That doesn’t mean that signing the Frenchman would be the only requirement. The club has relied on make-shift wing-back options and still might need midfield depth. But a striker like Giroud adds them an extra option upfront- a different option. The lack of it upfront has cost Inter many matches this season.

Against Lazio, for example, Inter were suffocated. A lot of it was down to how Lazio had nullified the midfield. They hadn’t allowed Inter to play through central midfield, stifling service for Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku. The duo endured one of their worst games in the season. It was a clear plan from Simone Inzaghi’s men to close out the nerazzurri to win the game.

Perhaps, Conte already knows that. After the club’s 1-1 draw against Slavia, he talked about the lack of a plan B. As usual, he sounded annoyed and it sounded like an aim at the business done last summer.

He said: “I would always like to see improvement, however today, talking about the football that we showed we took a step backwards. Plan B? What plan B? We don’t train to play long balls. We practice playing under pressure in order to find solutions.”

Inter’s system relies on centre-backs playing the ball out to the wing-backs. The wing-backs then play vertical passes into the strikers. This allows Lautaro and Lukaku to combine and form a very threatening pairing. But when it doesn’t work, Inter drop points regularly.

A lot of it also comes from how Conte’s pragmatic system sees them drop deeper once they go a goal up. But this leads to the attack being blunt, making Inter pick up only 16 wins from the 22 times they’ve been ahead.

Against a team like Barcelona, Conte had suffered from a lack of direct attacking options. He had to bring on Matteo Politano late in the game when they needed a Plan B to go direct and use long-balls. The lack of it saw them lose 2-1 to the Catalans.

That is exactly where a striker like Giroud could play a part. That also explains why Conte was keen on the Frenchman and Inter were linked with Fernando Llorente. Alexis Sanchez isn’t that direct option and neither was Politano, who is now at Napoli. Young Sebastiano Esposito is still taking his time and is more in the Lautaro mould.

Giroud could provide something else. While he was linked with a move to the likes of Lazio, Inter and Tottenham, he was back in the first-team after the window closed. He got a big goal against Spurs, showing that he has the quality to play for a big club regularly.

Inter need a player like him desperately next season. At 33, he won’t demand too much regular first-team football. Inter won’t offer that because Lautaro and Lukaku are the Plan A. But Giroud would be that impact player from the bench to win Inter games. It can go a long way to getting them closer to a Scudetto.