5 Inter Milan players who have improved under Antonio Conte | Serie A 2019-20
- Antonio Conte has had an instant impact with Inter Milan despite the recent slowdown.
- Here are the five biggest beneficiaries of his appointment.
From back-to-back fourth place finishes to Serie A title contenders, Inter Milan have definitely made progress under Antonio Conte. They might have lost steam in the last few games, losing to both Lazio and Juventus before the season came to a halt, but there has been a palpable improvement in the side in all departments.
The Nerazzurri are more active in the opposition's box, all the while maintaining a steady line of defence. Conte has identified and chopped dead weed from the squad, and also addressed the glaring weaknesses - absence of a creative engine in the midfield and also the unappetising wing-back options - with reinforcements.
Another compelling argument about him is that he's also bringing the best out of his players, and these are the five members of the team who have improved the most under him:
#5 Roberto Gagliardini
Roberto Gagliardini's development has continued steadily after joining Inter Milan in 2017. He had shown tremendous promise before this season, but what's different under the new manager is that the Italian has clocked more minutes than ever despite injury issues threatening to derail his season.
Gagliardini has shown he is strong, fast, technically gifted and possesses good vision. He is adept at winning the ball back while his eye for a pass has resulted in a couple of assists too. Despite his versatility in the centre of the park, he has mainly operated as a box-to-box midfielder and that has helped shape his shooting range further, something reflected by the two goals he's chipped in with.
It's a testament to Bastoni's immense talent that he has made a case for himself in a stellar Inter defense featuring Diego Godin, Stefan De Vrij and Milan Skriniar. With great tactical awareness and maturity that belie his age, the 20-year old has had a breakout year under Conte. He is strong in possession and uses tremendous physicality while man marking.
Bastoni might have played only 14 times, but has clearly demonstrated how solid he is. The Italian youngster averages almost two clearances per game while his quality in possession is highlighted by the staggering pass success rate of 88%.
His aerial ability too was on show when he scored a powerful header against Lecce and rescued a point. Reports emerging have also suggested that he has already generated interests from bigwigs such as Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool.
Antonio Candreva appeared to be a waning force last season when he struggled to add any substance to the side. A series of below-par performances even prompted Luciano Spaletti to bench him for more than half the season as his only meaningful contribution remained a solitary strike against Bologna on matchday three. This season, Candreva has turned his fortunes upside down.
The 33-year old looks like a player reborn, exuding the exact same dynamism and creativity that he did in the years preceding the last.
He's become a midfield lynchpin in Conte's set-up with excellent distribution skills and eye for a pass. Candreva's crossing ability has also yielded six assists in all competitions and he has even come up clutch with four goals, including a belter against Lecce on the opening day.
This may be his first campaign with Inter, but Romelu Lukaku has nevertheless come up the goods for his new side. He struggled to make an impact with Manchester United last season, something which facilitated his relocation in first place, and now under Conte's tutelage, he has conjured his productive self once again.
The ex-Everton star has 17 goals so far, which is bettered only by Cristiano Ronaldo (21) and Ciro Immobile (27) in the league, proving to be a lethal goalscorer for the Nerazzurri. Besides, he is also heavily involved in the build-up with several key passes and immense strength in possession. The backing he's received from the Inter fans too is another reason he has thrived this season.
#1 Lautaro Martinez
Lautaro Martinez came with the reputation of being an exciting young talent when he moved to Europe to join Inter in 2018, but like many other budding stars before him, struggled to initially acclimatise to a whole new landscape. Under Antonio Conte this season though, the 22-year old has found his feet again and even forged a fearsome strike partnership with Lukaku.
In 22 league appearances, he's netted 11 times - almost twice as much as he managed in the whole of last season. And he simply ain't racking up the numbers, as Martinez has come up trumps even in the big games, both in Serie A and the Champions League. He appears more confident than ever, while truly coming of age as Conte's 3-5-2 formation is bringing the best out him.
Honorable mentions: Danilo D'Ambrosio, Marcelo Brozovic, and Sebastian Esposito.