Former Inter goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca believes that the goalscoring form of Lautaro Martinez has been a bigger problem for the Nerazzurri than Samir Handanovic’s issues in goal.
Speaking to Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview published in today’s print edition, Pagliuca defended the Nerazzurri captain from accusations that his dip in form has been one of the key problems at the team.
Handanovic has come in for criticism throughout the season for some high-profile errors, while the 37-year-old has also at times showed his continued value to the team with important saves.
In recent matches, the Nerazzurri have struggled to keep clean sheets, and with a number of shots that have gone in there has been a sense that Handanovic could have done more to stop them.
However, Pagliuca is not so sure about this, and believes that the criticisms of the Slovenian’s form have been overstated.
“He’s not done horribly, but he could have done better,” he said of the captain’s performance against Sassuolo. “On the second there is no fault from him. There’s no way he could have possibly gotten to that cross.”
“If before he was a 10/10 goalkeeper, perhaps now he’s 8/10,” he added. “And if even he’s still at 8/10, that can be enough to magnify problems when something overall isn’t going right with the team.”
Pagliuca gave the view that “He may have made some errors, but Inter collecting few points over the past months has had more to do with an attack that isn’t performing as well as it had been.”
“The goal missed by Lautaro against Sassuolo hurts more than goalkeeping errors,” he added.
On the possibility of having Handanovic stay on to compete with Andre Onana for the starting spot next season, he stated that “This is now the trend, a team needs two keepers.”
“I believe that Handanovic will be the starter again next year and that Onana will gradually be introduced into the team,” he went on.
“Especially because based on watching Onana at the African Cup of Nations, he seemed not yet mature to me,” he said.
“I see him arriving and playing immediately in the league and in the Champions League,” he predicted, “with Handanovic appearing in the Coppa Italia.”
Pagliuca also predicted that Inter are still title favourites in Serie A even if their rivals have the “important advantage” of not having to fight on all fronts in cup competitions.