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FEATURE: Where on Earth has Inter’s Roberto Gagliardini Gone?

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Coming off the end of last season, Roberto Gagliardini was one of the most exciting Italian prospects. Many said he could be the next Pogba or Marco Tardelli; even Daniele De Rossi claimed he would become a “Piller” in the Italian National Team. Now more than halfway through the Serie A season, Gagliardini looks like a shell of his former self.

The twenty-three-year-old Italian seems to have forgotten to play football entirely. The tremendous prospect from Bergamo who had all the abilities of a complete midfielder has gone missing. He looks lost in Inter’s midfield and cannot seem to replicate the success that caught the eye of Inter in the first place. His incident during the Benevento match perfectly highlights how much he is struggling. Gagliardini, who has been prided on his defensive ability made an extremely dangerous tackle on Benevento’s Sandro. The challenge could have easily broken Sandro’s leg, but lucky for Gagliardini, it did not and he was not booked for the attempt.

It is tough seeing a young player like Gagliardini struggle after having such an impressive half season with Inter last year. While he was a key player under Stefano Pioli, he has not been able to replicate that success under Luciano Spalletti.

With Pioli’s high-intensity football, Inter were able to get the most out of Gagliardini’s playing style. Now with Spalletti who implements a more patient and defensive style of play, Gagliardini cannot play as physical as he is used to. As a result, he has not seen as much time and when he is on the field he is not the same productive central midfielder of the past. This tactical difference should not be one that holds him back forever though. If the Italian wants to have the promising future that everyone was speculating, he will have to adapt his game a bit.

Another simple solution to this decline in Gagliardini’s performance is simply a bad run of form. Inter’s past couple months have been quite underwhelming. The whole team has struggled since the start of 2018 and they finally notched their first win of the year against last-place Benevento. One may account the whole team’s struggle as a reason Gagliardini has been missing this year.

However, Gagliardini’s hitch may be something quite larger. Maybe the Italian jumped the gun on his transfer and should have honed his game at Atalanta for a bit longer. The perfect example of this is his former teammate Mattia Caldara.

The defender made a move to Juventus but immediately went back on loan to Atalanta and will join the team next season. This season, Caldara has been superb and has really been able to polish his abilities as a defender in preparation for his move to the Italian giants. It is quite possible Gagliardini was not ready for such a high profile move as well. The pressure of joining a top team can truly be a make or break moment for a player. If he had stayed back on loan and followed the footsteps of Caldara, he might not be finding himself in such a difficult position as he is in now.

At the age of twenty-three, it’s not like Gagliardini is walking away from football anytime soon. He still has plenty of time to turn this around and prove to all those that are doubting him that he’s not another flop. For the sake of Inter and all of Italy, Gagliardini’s return to top form is a must. For such a bright talent to burn out so quickly would be a true shame. Hopefully, the problem just lies with form and there is not a more severe problem looming with Gagliardini.



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