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Player Profile: Inter’s Milan Skriniar

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Skriniar kick-started his career in the youth system of hometown club FK Zia nad Hronom of the Slovak Third League. There, Milan gained attention from teams all around Slovakia for his stature and composure at the back.

Once Hronom was dissolved in 2012, Skriniar moved to Slovakia Superliga side MSK Zilina from 2007-2012, where he gradually climbed his way through the youth ranks to the senior squad. “Milan was a particularly talented & smart kid for his age. He worked on ball control, heading and shooting, nonstop,” said Igor Chodelka, a Zilina under-13 manager. At only 17, the 6-foot defender found trouble breaking into the first team.

In the 2013 season, wanting Milan to earn minutes in the Slovak Superliga instead of warming the bench, Zilina loaned him to FC ViOn Zlaté Moravce. Skriniar got minutes under his belt and impressed Zilina enough that they took him back at the season’s end.

The Slovak would go on to make 77 appearances for Zilina over the next three seasons, scoring 12 times.

In January of 2016, Sampdoria announced the 1 million signing of Skriniar from Zilina for four-and-a-half years. During his time with Sampdoria, Skriniar made an imposing 35 appearances and played over 3000 minutes, creating a name for himself in Italy.

He was the youngest defender to have made at least 35 appearances in the 2016/17 Serie A season. In a league that prides itself on defense, a 21-year-old making that many appearances raised a few eyebrows among the top sides in Serie A. He was also named Slovakia’s best U21 player of 2016, receiving the Peter Dubovsky Award. Inter had to fight off various teams for Milan’s signature but prevailed in the end.

After an impressive individual 2016/17 season with Sampdoria, Skriniar was signed by Inter for around €20 million with Gianluca Caprari going the other way for €15 million.

International Career

Skriniar has been tipped by many to be the one to take the leadership reigns from Martin Skrtel as leader of the Slovakian backline for the foreseeable future. Being almost a decade younger than the ex-Liverpool defender, Skriniar has big shoes to fill and is, currently, exceeding expectations.

The young defender has played for various ages of the Slovakia national team throughout his career. While his international career is just getting started, Slovakia have found a great run of form with Milan in the lineup, winning five of the last six games. In the one loss that came to England in World Cup Qualifiers, Skrniar was Slovakia’s standout player according to various sources.

Milan at Inter: a short but impressive start

The defender can now be found commanding the Inter backline with Joao Miranda. The two have fused to create one of the best center back partnerships so far in Serie A and only look like they’re getting better.

While the first four games are not the best to analyze a player’s overall impact, conceding only one goal in four games against the likes of Fiorentina and Roma is impressive to say the least.

Standing at 6-feet tall, the Inter #37 is an aerial warrior. With his imposing stature, the defender masterfully bodies his opponents, shields the ball, holds possession well and distributes with ease.  His poise and man-marking skills have looked second-to-none and his grace and elegance compared to previous Inter center backs are things to keep an eye on as he progresses. Skriniar’s structure also allows him to be a constant goal-scoring threat in the area on set pieces. In Slovakia, Milan scored 12 goals in 77 appearances. At Sampdoria, Skriniar never got on the scoresheet, however, in his fourth game with Inter, the defender scored his first goal for the club which also happened to be the winner against Crotone for Inter’s fourth win out of four games this season. From four games, Skriniar has become a major key to the Inter system. I nerazzurri now not only have the best defense in Italy statistically, but are at the summit of Serie A after four games thanks to Milan Skriniar’s contribution.

Again, four league games aren’t enough to have us bowing down to the next Nesta just yet, but early signs are positive for Milan and i nerazzurri.

@ItalianFD

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