With Inter having signed Robin Gosens from Atalanta, Jyotirmoy Halder explores how the move is excellent news for the Nerazzurri but bad news for Ivan Perisic.
Tested positive for COVID-19, Manchester City’s Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo had to withdraw from the Portugal squad awaiting their first game in the delayed Euro 2020. Devoid of huge resources at the full-back department, the Seleção brought in Diogo Dalot as Cancelo’s replacement. On the other hand, there was Nélson Semedo.
Ahead of the competition, very few would have expected to see Semedo in action for the national side in the European Championship. But given the ill circumstances that plagued Cancelo’s chances of playing in the tournament, a start for Semedo was imminent. As such, the day finally came when Portugal kicked off their Euro 2020 campaign, with Semedo making the starting XI and playing as the first-choice right-back against Hungary.
The game ended in a 3-0 victory for the Cristiano Ronaldo-led side, and Semedo had to work very little to thwart a toothless Hungary offence. Most of his impact came through the lightning, forward runs down the right flank. The performance not only marked a perfect start to the campaign for Fernando Santos’ side but also epitomised the extent of efforts needed to prevail in a group containing other European heavyweights such as Germany and France.
Semedo’s inspiring performance in the first game earned him a starting spot against Germany in Portugal’s second game in the competition. But it did not end well for the Wolverhampton Wanderers employee, why? Robin Gosens ended up garnering the man of the match memento.
19 – Germany's fourth goal yesterday against Portugal scored by Robin Gosens came at the end of a move of 19 passes, the most passes before a goal at EURO 2020. Tiki-taka. #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/QujGHGttHN— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2021
If the eye-test and statistics are something to go by, that German completely annihilated Semedo on that very day, racking up one goal and two assists to help Germany thrash Portugal 4-2. If coach Santos had a chance to revisit his decision to field Semedo against Gosens after the game, he would have decided against opting for the former Barcelona star ten out ten times that evening. But this time, the writing was on the wall.
Those, unacquainted with the traits of the German, discovered a new talking point and perhaps a superstar in the making. But those, familiar with observing Gosens for the last few years, could cherish the scene of the player flourishing in his national outfit. It was nothing new to the latter section. The brand new Gosens’ stans didn’t hesitate to call the game against Portugal the turning point of his career. Of course, the game revealed the features of Gosens to a broad sphere of new eyes across the globe, but it was somewhat absurd to mark Gosens’ display against Portugal as “the turning point of his career”.
Well, talking of a turning point in Gosens’ career, we might have to wait for a little longer as his awaited transfer to Inter Milan from Atalanta B.C. carry all the ingredients to send Gosens’ career trajectory on an upward spiral.
Robin Gosens meets with La Dea
Despite having made six appearances in the Serie A 2021/22, Gosens has not had his traditional goalscoring aura around the league this time. While donning the colours of Atalanta, he has amassed only two goals and one assist. For a contemporary full-back, the mentioned tally of two goals represents a great deal of pride. But for Gosens, it does not. Since representing Germany in the Euro 2020 last summer, Gosens has somewhat gone under the radar, especially owing to a hamstring injury that restricted the 27-year-old to only eight appearances across all competitions this term.
Following Achraf Hakimi’s big-money departure from Inter in summer, the Nerazzurri brought in Denzel Dumfries, who had previously offered charming displays while representing the Netherlands in the summer’s European Championship. Hakimi was a massive loss, but the way Inter moved to fill the crater seemed sensible. In the same manner, Inter were scratching their heads going into the winter transfer window, searching for the answer regarding the dilemma at the other end of the pitch, as to who could be their next “Denzel Dumfries” at the left side. And now, it seems as if they have found one hell of a solution.
Yes, Robin Gosens has officially joined Inter Milan, signing a six-month loan deal with Inter, which would be made permanent in the summer as there is reportedly an obligation to buy, worth around €25 million and various add-ons, installed in the agreement reached between both parties. However, to make the deal permanent, it is said that certain conditions need to be met by the end of the full-back’s loan spell.
What could Gosens offer to the Nerazzurri?
In one line, the answer would be: Gosens can offer everything a coach aspires to get from his wing-back. But we must delve into the roots of the matter to make the case clearer. Having ended Inter’s Scudetto drought last season, Antonio Conte chose to part ways with the Milan club. As such, his departure from Inter, especially when the club was seemingly ready to touch the new heights of prominence, took almost everyone by surprise. It left a sour taste among the fans of the newly-crowned Serie A champions. They needed to defend their title. And for that, they needed a man like Conte.
The hiring of Simone Inzaghi was met with a veil of despondency and apprehension by the fans. But the way their 2021/22 season has unfurled for Inter so far, it would be harsh not to praise Inzaghi for the work he has done for the blue side of Milano. Keeping almost everything simple and as it was under Conte’s reign, Inzaghi implemented his philosophy on the squad, and it, by the look of things, has paid off thus far. Despite the financial burdens inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Inter made some rational additions to the squad in the last summer transfer window and are expected to do the same in the winter.
While Inzaghi’s summer signings in Edin Dzeko, Joaquin Correa, and Hakan Çalhanoğlu have epitomised rationality and helped Inter Milan pose a commendable title challenge in front of the conventional seven sisters of Serie A, the coups from the ongoing winter transfer window are envisioned to have the same impact on the Inter’s pursuit of another Scudetto.
Signed from a Dutch side named Heracles Almelo, Gosens moved to Bergamo in 2017. It took time for him to settle down in Italy. But when he eventually did, it sketched a gradual yet steady evolution of a player plying his trades far from his homeland. Soon Serie A witnessed the emergence of one of the most lethal wing-backs in the whole region. With 157 matches, 29 goals, and 21 assists to his name, Gosens partly revolutionised Atalanta’s flank-based gameplay.
His sharp left foot, capable of scoring goals as well as garnering assists, has wreaked havoc in the opposition’s base in the recent past. Furthermore, his witty runs into the opponents’ box and robust figure draws a sound comparison with AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez. Like Theo, however, Gosens can be defensively vulnerable. But since Inter field a back three, the last point does not make a lot of sense.
The stats from FBref showcase that the German has scored nine and ten goals in his last two campaigns respectively for Atalanta. And as mentioned earlier, it took an ominous hamstring injury to halt his progress this term. But that did not halt Inter’s ambition to land the German, with the German confirming in his first official interview with Inter that he would like to score more goals at Inter. But what does his arrival mean to Inter tactically? That brings us to the next segment.
Is Gosens’ arrival a piece of bad news for Perisic?
Before the arrival of Gosens, Inzaghi had Federico Dimarco, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Ivan Perišić (for the left wing-back position) at his disposal. Since joining Inter, Inzaghi, as mentioned earlier, has changed very little to those methods applied by Conte previously. The formation of the team, hence, has remained almost the same, with Inter playing with a back three and a pair of wing-backs providing the width down the flanks.
There awaits three midfielders (one defensive-minded, one box-to-box, and a creator-in-chief) and two forwards to pounce on the chances produced by their peers. Conte’s classic 5-3-2 has become the key to success for Inzaghi, and it could be the way forward for the club in the future as well.
Now, how could the signing of Gosens influence the puzzles within the squad? It is clear as a piece of paper that Gosens has been signed to be a cover for the left wing-back position.
Although the German possesses the ability to operate from the left-back position, the general perception insists that he is more effective as a left wing-back. So, he is a left wing-back for Inzaghi’s Inter. After discussing his positional nuances, let’s spin the wheel take a closer look at the orb from the other direction.
Perišić’s contract at Inter, which will expire in June 2022, has caught some significant notice in the Italian media of late. Regarded as one of the most flamboyant players in the league, Perisic was an integral part of Inter’s Scudetto-winning team last season. This season, he has continued to be productive, but the concern is that his future at Inter is in limbo. He has not signed a contract renewal with Inter, and that has given a massive rise to the probability of Croat leaving San Siro as a free agent next summer.
The reports surrounding the club suggests that Perisic is trying to use his limited time at the club as leverage to increase his wages before committing his future to the Italian champions’ cause.
Interestingly, Inter made a counter punch with the signing of Gosens, who has all the capability to dethrone the Croatia international, who will be 33 years of age in the upcoming February. Now, Inter can approach Perišić’s entourage with a rejuvenated belief that they have a replacement ready in case the negotiations between them fall to bits. So, as the observer of the game, what should we do? Follow me!
Whether you are an Inter fan or not, there is always something enchanting in a deal falling apart and seeing how a club chooses to back their case. In this case, it is indeed awe-inspiring how Inter have managed to lure Gosens away from Bergamo. Despite the deal being a loan, Inter might feel more comfortable as they got success in including not an option but an obligation to buy the wing-back permanently. And what is the worth of that? It’s said to be only €25 million. In a market where Hakimi joined Paris Saint-Germain for €60 million, Gosens, who belongs to the same ilk, could have warranted more. In the respective, it goes without saying that Inter have done a brilliant job.
Now if Perisic agrees upon extending his stay at Inter, it would be great for both sets of fans — Perisic gets to play for the reigning champions of Italy and Inter have their requisite competition for places in the left wing-back position. And even if the negotiations fall apart, it is not before the next summer that the veteran would eventually part ways. Inter could then focus only on bringing in a backup. This Gosens deal has made the whole Perisic dilemma as favourable as it could be for Inter. And the fans should acknowledge the moment by pouring a cup of tea or coffee and taking a sip off it, reflecting a relaxing mood and positive energy amid the whirlwind of uncertainty over Ivan Perisic’s future.