Former Inter striker Nicola Ventola believes that ex-Nerazzurri man Julio Cruz would have made it into any team in the world, whilst also offering advice to current striker Alexis Sanchez.
Ventola was often used as a reserve for Inter in 1998-99, before rejoining in 2000 until 2005, and spoke of Argentina international Cruz, claiming he was a complete forward.
“Cruz was more than a back-up, he was almost a certainty,” Ventola claimed on Inter’s official podcast, Kick Off.
“It was normal that there were two starters ahead of him, but when he came on the pitch he was incredible. He was a complete player and could have been a starter in any team.
“Technical, intelligent, physical and he knew how to provide assists. He was a player who chose to play as a back-up for Inter when he could have been a starter for any other team.
Ventola compared both Cruz’s and his own experiences to that of Sanchez, who has often been used behind regular strike partners Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez this season.
“Having such strong players in front of you is something that helps you prepare yourself and understand how to go on the pitch in the right way. From a mental point of view, I was a back-up, so I knew I had to accept my opportunities.
“It was something that I needed and that helped me concentrate. Against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, Ronaldo had decided in the morning that he wanted to give me an assist with his heel and he did. Thus was born a spectacular goal. Ronaldo always had this spark of positivity that cheered us up in difficult moments. I am glad to see him doing well in his role at Real Vallodolid.
“Sanchez is a player who cannot be beaten, he is very strong. Now he is physically recovered. Paradoxically, in the match against Sampdoria when he missed a penalty he was the best player. He has personality as well as quality.
“He is a very precious additional weapon for Inter at such a crucial moment in the season. During the game, he knows how to use his speed and intelligence to move between the lines and make the difference in a match. He’s now showing that Antonio Conte can rely on him as a starter.”
Ventola then turned his attention to another former Inter striker in the form of Mario Balotelli and was full of praise for the Monza player.
“I never had the pleasure of seeing him up close in person, but we all know his quality. At a certain point in his career I think he stopped attacking with depth, which was an important trait for someone with his strength.
“When he was at Inter he was an incredible player, lethal every time he took to the pitch. He had great mental strength, that healthy ignorance of those players who know they are strong.”