It isn’t often that managers have favourable decisions to make. Antonio Conte doesn’t have that blessing in midfield but has options in the forward and defensive positions. One such dilemma that could face him is the choice between Kwadwo Asamoah and Cristiano Biraghi.
The Italian international Biraghi arrived at the San Siro from Fiorentina this summer. The deal saw Dalbert move to La Viola on loan and the Italian join the Nerazzurri on loan too.
Biraghi was a key part of the Fiorentina side over the last 2 years. He was the first-choice left-back for Stefano Pioli, who saw the 27-year-old as one of his trusted guards. Even though Biraghi did play on the left of midfield, his main spot was always left-back throughout his career.
This season, Biraghi has appeared once so far for Inter. That came against giants Lazio and Biraghi grabbed a lovely assist. He set up Danilo D’Ambrosio, who was playing at right wing-back, with a gem of a cross.
Asamoah, on the other hand, has become a Serie A veteran. He was a key part of the Juve side that Antonio Conte won the Scudetto with on multiple occasions. He has appeared six times in the league this season, grabbing one assist.
Asamoah is much more accustomed to playing at wing-back than left-back because of how he was often used at Juve. He did play at left-back under Luciano Spalletti last season, but he is a veteran in the wing-back position.
A comparison of their last season’s performances will say a lot. Defensively, both players are quite the same. Asamoah often took criticism for losing concentration but the defensive side of his game is sound otherwise.
Last season, both players won the same amount of tackles per game- 1.4. Asamoah won only 0.1 interceptions more than Biraghi- another reminder of their similarities. Biraghi was dribbled past 0.6 times while the Ghanaian was dribbled past 0.7 times (via Whoscored)
But it is the technical aspect that reveals the difference. Biraghi made 1.7 key passes per game last season- second highest for the club last season. But at the same time, Asamoah played more passes per game and had a better passing percentage than the Italian.
Biraghi played the highest number of crosses per game too- 1.7 as compared to Asamoah’s tally of 0.6.
Their metrics from last season suggest that while Asamoah can be more involved in the build-up, Biraghi is more into assisting or grabbing a pre-assist. He can take up slightly more advanced positions and his better technical ability can be of a big help, in that regard.
And his ability to play further forward in the midfield is exactly why Conte wants him as a wing-back who can pick out crosses like the one he picked out against Lazio. With someone like Romelu Lukaku up front, Biraghi will have someone bigger to target than what he had in Giovanni Simeone last season.
In a direct system, a player like Biraghi could come up with vital moments in attack. He will always be encouraged to ping crosses into the box and be direct with his passing.
A lot of Inter’s play focuses down the left. Milan Skriniar builds from the back and uses the wing-back on that side as a route out. They use their left side more than the centre or the right (per Whoscored), which means that the left is a big part of how they play.
But Conte clearly believes in Asamoah. He knows his system better than Biraghi. And his age makes it better for him. Conte knows him very well and that is why he plays over Biraghi.
But the Italian should not be counted out. Even though Asamoah should play regularly, Biraghi can add a lot going forward when Inter need. Conte should slowly integrate him into the first-team, as time passes by.