Marcelo Brozovic showed why he is valued so highly by Inter during the derby despite the Nerazzurri’s late capitulation in the Derby della Madonnina defeat to AC Milan.
Inter were in total control for the majority of the match at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday evening and would likely have been further ahead had AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan not come up with one of his best performances since joining the club.
As it turned out, they would lose the game 2-1 after a quickfire double from Olivier Giroud with less than 15 minutes left to play.
Pioli’s failed plan to contain Brozovic
The Nerazzurri’s control of the game stemmed predominantly from Brozovic’s ability to slow and speed up the tempo of the match all by himself.
It is far from being a secret that he is the engine room of Inter. He was last season as Antonio Conte led them to the Scudetto, and he has continued to be this season as Simone Inzaghi looks to do the same.
The biggest compliment paid to the Croatian ahead of Saturday’s Derby della Madonnina is that Stefano Pioli decided he must essentially sacrifice one of his most important players to try and limit Brozovic’s effect on the game.
He opted to use Franck Kessie in a more advanced role so that he could essentially go toe-to-toe with Brozovic and remove him from Inter’s build-up play at every given opportunity.
This plan did not work for two main reasons. Brozovic has a way of moving his body and the ball that means he can dance around almost any player. He ghosted past Kessie on multiple occasions and still appeared central to everything positive that Inter did.
Another reason it didn’t work, in sympathy to Kessie and Pioli, is that the Ivorian has not long returned from the Africa Cup of Nations and it showed. He was unable to keep up with Brozovic and had little to no effect on the game.
Pioli abandoned the experiment before the hour mark and threw on Brahim Diaz. His creative influence did make a difference to Milan as they began chasing the game. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Pioli may wish he had started the game with Diaz tucked behind Olivier Giroud. They go there in the end, though.
Brozovic was taken off shortly after Giroud scored what proved to be the winner and Inter looked disjointed for the remaining 10 or so minutes. Other changes will have contributed to that of course, but the idea of being without Brozovic must haunt Inzaghi.
Brozovic’s Inter contract situation
Inter have been in discussions to extend Marcelo Brozovic’s contract for effectively the entirety of this season.
He’s free to go in the summer and he’s certainly not short of potential suitors. The likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona, and Newcastle United have all presented offers to him. For a period of time it looked inevitable he would leave as his desired wage increase would be too much for Inter to sanction.
Qualification to the latter stages of the Champions League and a continued proficiency in securing sponsorship deals all over the world means the club now look prepared to almost offer him what he wants.
Its been reported that an agreement has already been reached for a four-year deal that would see him earn €6 million per season with bonuses that can take the salary to €7 million. The latest hitch, though, is that he wants those bonuses to be easier to attain than what Inter have offered.
It should be an easy detail to iron out, but the fact that Inter have offered that amount of money shows that they fear the task of replacing the Croatian who has become one of the best midfielders in Europe.
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