As Inter kept pace with Juventus at the top of the Serie A standings with a 4-3 victory at Sassuolo on Sunday afternoon, the performance of striking duo Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku indicated that recent injuries could be a blessing in disguise for the Nerazzurri.
With Alexis Sanchez unavailable for the next few months through an ankle injury picked up on international duty with Chile, Antonio Conte is going to be unlikely to rotate his front pair if using his favoured 3-5-2 formation.
Although Lautaro and Sanchez showed similar signs of a promising partnership themselves against Sampdoria at the end of September, the latter is not only on a temporary posting in Milan, but is arguably approaching the tail end of his career. Despite being just 30-years-old.
Against the Neroverdi, Lukaku and Lautaro dovetailed superbly – also sharing the goals equally between them – with the physicality of the Belgian occupying the opposition defenders allowing the Argentinean acres of space during the first-half.
That contribution is echoed in Martinez’s statistical improvement under the new regime, scoring four goals in his last three games in all competitions, the same as he had netted in the previous 21 matches for Inter.
The South American noted his enjoyment at playing with Lukaku, telling InterTV “the relationship with Lukaku is going well.”
“I have my job, and lots of work goes into that during,” signalling that his role is equally important to the partnership starting to flourish at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
Lukaku became the first Nerazzurri player since Diego Milito in November 2009 to score four or more goals in his first four away games in Serie A. A season when Inter dominated both domestically and in Europe by winning the treble.
It also highlighted how the confidence and responsibility Conte has shown in the 26-year-old on arriving in Milan is paying dividends, the Belgian scoring a first league double since March this year.
Seemingly loving life in Italy, the former Manchester United striker is reportedly looking to an area of the city where Martinez and his wife live. No doubt strengthening the personal bound the pair have off-the-pitch, as does his linguistic acumen allowing him to converse in Martinez’ mother-tongue of Spanish.
“It’s going really well [with Lautaro],” Lukaku told InterTV post-game. “From the moment I arrived at Inter, we have always been around each other.
“We both speak Spanish, which helps us a lot in our relationship.”
With Borussia Dortmund next up and the Champions League and a crucial part of the Serie A season on the horizon that relationship will be put to the test, but the signs for the moment are nothing but positive for Inter fans.