When reminiscing about title-winning teams, there tend to be three or four players that everyone remembers and hails as the heroes of the generation. Think Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, and Gennaro Gattuso in AC Milan’s last Serie A-winning side.
Since then, Juventus’ nine-year domination feels as though it has merged into one long campaign, especially with the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Gianluigi Buffon, and Leonardo Bonucci being involved – more or less – throughout. Finally, though, Inter have stolen the Bianconeri’s crown. The Nerazzuri clinched the title after Atalanta failed to beat Sassuolo on Sunday.
The stars that will be fondly remembered from this Inter side will likely be the deadly strike force of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, along with the likes of Nicolo Barella and Achraf Hakimi. They’re the players that capture the imagination, the stars that children across Italy will idolise and aspire to be like.
It takes more than four players though to win a title though. So who are the less glamorous but just as vital players that have helped Antonio Conte end the domination that he started with Juve back in 2011/12?
Beyond the remarkable form of Martinez and Lukaku, Inter’s main strength this year has been their use of attacking full-backs. It’s given them a dimension to their attacking play that many teams in Serie A don’t have.
Hakimi has cemented himself as an attacking full-back on the same level as the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joao Cancelo. Inter are not quite as strong at left wing-back, but it’s the players they’re able to rotate into those positions that have been key to delivering this Serie A title.
The left-hand side has seen a rotation predominantly between Ashley Young and a reinvented Ivan Perisic. Those two players have made 23 and 29 appearances respectively in Serie A this season, so they’ve clearly both been used in a very similar manner by Antonio Conte.
Back on the right, cover for Hakimi has been mostly provided by Danilo D’Ambrosio, who has long been one of the most versatile and consistently solid performers in Italian football. He’s turned out 16 times in the league this season, and picked up three goals along the way.
Another in those positions, capable of playing on either side, who has provided more than adequate cover on both wings is Matteo Darmian. He’s featured 27 times and has recently scored two key goals for Inter to help clinch the title. He scored the winning goal against both Cagliari and Hellas Verona in April, wins that put the title beyond any doubt.
Having rotational players that can pick up goals as well as providing rest to star players is invaluable. Perisic, D’Ambrosio, and Darmian have scored nine goals between them, and if you add Young back into the equation, they’ve registered 16 league assists.
These sorts of players often get referred to as ‘water carriers’. They do the hard yards and jobs that don’t always get the same level of attention because it’s not as exciting. They’re essential to every title-winning team, and the fans won’t forget their names in a hurry.