Inter fans should reassess Antonio Candreva criticism
Antonio Candreva has failed to set the world alight since joining Inter in the summer. Despite this, his performances have not been as bad as many suggest
At €22 million, Inter’s purchase of Antonio Candreva from Lazio was neither lavish or a drop in the ocean, yet was expected to help their return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign.
Joao Mario and Gabriel Barbosa the certainly more costly and Ever Banega with European pedigree, but coming from outside Serie A, it was anticipated the Italian would make the biggest impact at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
Instead, the 30-year-old has struggled to replicate performances seen with the Biancocelesti, and is arguably the biggest disappointment of all the summer arrivals in Milan.
However, what is even more astonishing to supporters than the attacking-midfielder’s plummeting form, is that he continues to be one of the first names on the Nerazzurri teamsheet.
Candreva has missed just 398 minutes of Serie A action this season, appearing in all 27 outings so far and starting 25 of those contests, and his arrival from the bench during the loss to Atalanta and draw with Palermo hardly sparked them into life.
The Roman has registered just four league goals this season, after hitting double figures in each of his last three campaigns, although providing six assists – roughly on a par with his average return in the capital.
Maybe his troubles started at Euro 2016 where, after setting up the Azzurri’s second goal against Belgium, the ex-Parma loanee was forced to sit out the remainder of the competition through injury.
Some allowance can be made while trying to adapt during Inter’s overall struggles this term – working under three coaches just seven months – but for that entire period there has been a general lack of dynamism in his game that we have come accustomed to witnessing.
If this were in 12 months time, you would expect Candreva to be fretting over his place in the Italian national squad for the World Cup in Russia, but he isn’t even under threat at the San Siro.
The statistics also point to a significant drop in output from the attacker against his Serie A peers, but stands shoulder-to-shoulder with his Nerazzurri teammates this season – Mauro Icardi aside.
Which raises the question whether there is anyone in the Inter squad fit to replace even an underperforming Candreva, without altering the formation that has provided new coach Stefano Pioli a solid foundation from which to build.
The 51-year-old also knows the Italian coach from his time with the Aquile, therefore, is probably less willing to drop a player that, even if getting 60 percent of his potential, is better than the alternatives.
The Italian international may just be experiencing a natural decline, after spending his peak years as one of the peninsula’s leading lights, and the comparisons between Candreva now and the spritely 25-year-old are unfair.
Sorry Interisti, you may have wanted the swash-buckling wideman on show in Rome for the last half decade, but for the price you paid the slower more experienced model is what you get.