Milan Skriniar’s stock has risen over the last two years, and the way he has developed at Inter has caught the attention of many big clubs in Europe. Now in his third season at the club, Skriniar has become one of the best defenders in the world.
Skriniar was heavily linked with Manchester United and Manchester City over the last few months, but he stayed at the San Siro as Antonio Conte took over the reins from former manager Luciano Spalletti.
Fresh reports now have linked Real Madrid and Barcelona with a move for the Slovakian. That would send alarms ringing among many Nerazzurri faithful, considering how they have been there before. But things currently are very different.
So far this season, the defender has made 12 Serie A starts, helping Inter claim a spot in the top two of the league. Playing in the 3-5-2 shape under Conte, Skriniar has usually played as the left centre-back. He hasn’t just been given the task of defending, but he has also done a lot to help Inter build from the back.
That is why Inter usually play out from the left side of the pitch. Because of Skriniar, 35% of the club‘s play starts from that side. Conte has tapped into this strength of Skriniar that allows him to be technically adept when helping his side lay down the foundation.
Having said that, it hasn’t been Skriniar’s best season at Inter by any means. His stature is higher than ever, but the performances aren’t living up to it.
This season in the Serie A, he has attempted only 1.2 tackles per game – the lowest ever at Inter. He has also been dribbled past the most during his Inter spell too- 0.7. He’s been dispossessed 0.3 times so far this season – a number that will likely increase as the season wears on (Via WhoScored).
But so far, that has almost been the lowest he’s ever lost possession in a single season. More than that, Skriniar has also made more interceptions this season than he ever did at the San Siro. Conte’s belief in him has given Skriniar a passing percentage of 94.4%. That’s the highest in his career (Via WhoScored).
This shows that Skriniar has played out a rather mixed season when Stefan de Vrij has been the club’s best defender – the Dutchman has played as the central defender. Diego Godin meanwhile has been the right central defender. The basic idea of not having Skriniar play centrally is his ball-playing ability.
This has left Skriniar prone to falling short of pace, especially against quicker forwards. Against Yann Karamoh and Gervinho, Skriniar got dribbled past twice. He was dispossessed once too. He had played as the right-sided defender and that exposed him further.
Playing in that system can be a complicated task. The side defenders have to cover up at the full-back positions many times. And this can take time, so the same goes for Skriniar. He has always played in a back 4 before, but this is a new experience.
The same goes for Godin, whose lack of pace has left him stranded many times. Since De Vrij plays centrally and has played in a similar system for the Netherlands, he hasn’t had an issue with the structure so far.
And as much as this is an adjustment period for Skriniar, he only needs to rectify one part, and that pertains to getting caught out against pace. It is normalcy but as the numbers above suggest, there have been some very promising signs too. And Skriniar has admitted to how playing regularly will only improve him.
He recently told reporters (via FootballItalia):
“It’s better to play many games in a row. That way, we don’t have to train as much. I like [playing a lot of games]. The goal is always to play at the top.”
As time goes on, it will only improve, and Inter have to keep trusting him for that. Even though Alessandro Bastoni is growing in stature, Skriniar could still be Inter’s best defender on his day. At 24, he just needs that time and patience.