Legendary former Inter defender Beppe Bergomi believes that the Nerazzurri could struggle following the departure of Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku.
Speaking to Milan-based newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview published in yesterday’s print edition, the former defender explained that he believes that his former club will have trouble dealing with the loss of Lukaku in particular.
As Bergomi suggests, Lukaku’s loss will be felt not only in terms of his contributions on the pitch, but also in terms of his leadership and the uplift that he provides to his teammates.
Fans will hope that others in the team will be able to replace the contributions of the Belgian, if not directly then by changing the style of play and thriving in new roles to make up for his weighty absence.
However, the former defender is not optimistic about this and sees the departure of Lukaku and Hakimi as a major blow to the team’s ambitions.
“Inter are weaker without Lukaku and Hakimi,” Bergomi stated, “Above all, the sale of Lukaku weighs heavily. He was the emotional leader, he attracted everyone to him.”
He continued that “The club, however, given the difficulties in which the owners find themselves, has done well. They took Dzeko and Dumfries, both good players. They need another striker that gives depth, if they find one they will remain competitive for the Scudetto, but if they qualify for the Champions League that will be enough.”
On the arrival of Edin Dzeko to replace Lukaku, Bergomi stated, “Going ahead with Dzeko it was a good signing. Serious guy, physically good, highly motivated – it’s the best solution, given the conditions, but he’s not enough. I say they worked well because after Eriksen they signed Calhanoglu. Then a good player like Dumfries arrived on the right.”
“With Conte the depth was given by Lukaku, and at Lazio, Immobile,” Bergomi continued, “Dzeko is excellent in the movement on the pitch, but Lukaku on the long ball is not behind him.”
He explained, “You need someone that runs in behind. Thuram has always played as a winger, Correa knows the Italian league. Zapata was perhaps the best profile, then there would be Frenchman [Odsonne] Edouard of Celtic, not a bad idea.”
Of the stylistic change from former manager Antonio Conte to his successor Simone Inzaghi, Bergomi stated that “The goal they scored against Dynamo Kiev in Monza, with all the one-touch passes, are typical of Lazio.”
“Inter will be more skilled in short phrasing,” he continued, “after two years of Conte, Inzaghi may be the right profile to work with the players. He has grown a lot, he can bring his ideas and the man-management will be different. Change can be positive, it doesn’t have to scare us. But it is clear, Conte is an absolute champion.”
“Before Conte, Oriali and Zanetti were very close,” he said, “but there were differences between ownership and management. Now the figures of Marotta and Ausilio become fundamental, with Inzaghi they are more united, they will work closely together and will not leave him alone.”
On what the team loses with Lukaku’s departure, Bergomi stated, “As I said, Inter have become weaker. There are players who dominate in certain leagues, Lukaku is one of them. Ibra [AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovc] is another, even at 40 he is decisive for Milan. Lukaku had a dominant presence.”
On his predictions for the Nerazzurri’s upcoming Champions League campaign, Bergomi stated, “This year they have the misfortune of being in the first pot. Tt seems paradoxical, but the second-tier teams are stronger.”
“In recent seasons they have always had the strongest third-pot teams in the Champions League – it takes a bit of luck. In Europe, different football is played: the national team has taught us something. But getting past the group stage would be desirable.”
“Inter can reach the second round,” he said, “but it depends on the draw and who they play against at a certain moment.”
On who he considered to be the favourites for the Scudetto, Bergomi named the Nerazzurri’s rivals Juventus.
“Juve have the best squad,” he stated, “maybe not perfect, but Allegri is back and he makes the difference. With Locatelli the midfield is settled, they are the favourites.”