Inter progress to NextGen Series final with win over Marseille as Daniel Bessa, Joseph Duncan & others shine

A splendid Lorenzo Crisetig free-kick and a sweeping goal capped by Samuele Longo confirmed the future of the Italian club is in promising hands after some inspiring performances
By Jay Jaffa at Griffin Park

Two first half goals gave a creative Inter Milan side a deserved 2-0 win, sending them to the inaugural NextGen Series final as they disposed of a dire Marseille team too focused on direct football.

Inter will meet Ajax in Sunday's final after the Dutch side demolished Liverpool 6-0 in the tournament's other semi-final.

The NextGen Series is in its debut year and comprised 16 of Europe's finest academy teams - all signed to a three-year participation contract with the organisers.

Since Inter's opening 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham, they have rallied and embarked on a five-game unbeaten streak. The side are vastly different to the one that lost so heavily to Spurs, indicating how seriously they now view the competition.

A number of players sparkled on Brentford's Griffin Park pitch and was there to run the rule over the next generation of stars.


The 20-year-old forward was part of an attacking trident that terrorised Marseille's defence for most of the evening. Longo is the tallest of the three, but by no means a target man. He played the majority of the semi-final on the left wing, linking well with Daniel Bessa and Marko Livaja.

Up against a walking disaster in Ricardo Charles, he showed impressive pace and directness in his dribbling as Inter targeted the French side's right-back.

Longo netted the second and final goal of the night and it highlighted his awareness of the space around him as he drifted inside Bessa. As his partner-in-crime weaved to the byline, it was Longo's instinct that found the space in the six-yard box to tap home the cross and double Inter's lead.

Plays a bit like: Luis Suarez


The fleet-footed Brazilian-born attacker immediately looked the stand-out player on the pitch. The 19-year-old has been with the Inter academy – the Primavera – since 2008 and showed great understanding alongside Longo and Livaja, drifting freely between the Marseille defence and midfield.

Bessa showed a deft touch in possession and remarkable composure in tight situations. Standing at no more than 5' 8", Bessa was also quick off the mark and impressive running with the ball at his feet.

This was no more evident than in the build up for the second goal as he collected the ball in front of the Marseille defence, shimmied inside and played a quick one-two with Livaja and attacked the box. His close ball control took him past the lunging Christophe Lowinsky before squaring the ball for Longo to tap home. It was a fantastic assist.

Plays a bit like: Giuseppe Rossi


Crisetig already carries a bit of weight in the Primavera squad. He made his first team debut earlier this season as a 91st minute substitute against CSKA Moscow and holds the record as the youngest player to feature for the Italian U21 team at just 17 years of age.

He stamped his authority on the semi-final after just 67 seconds, curling home a splendid 25-yard free kick beyond Ibrahima Sy to give Inter the lead.

Crisetig was deployed in central midfield and expected to get the ball from Joseph Duncan and supply the attack. He is a 6' tall midfielder – quite rangy looking – but athletic enough to not be deemed a passenger when the going gets tough.

His left foot was something to marvel at and his set piece accuracy caused danger, particularly an exceptional corner delivered menacingly across the six yard box. He is certainly more of a languid play-maker than an out and out destroyer but nonetheless didn't seem shy of making a tackle.

Plays a bit like: Riccardo Montolivo


Jobello has had an eventful NextGen Series, seeing red in the group game over Celtic a particular lowlight. He started the game on the bench and didn't enter the fray until half-time. The winger was required to add a touch of inspiration and flair to the French side – which he achieved.

He played wide left and was the outstanding attacking threat for the French side in his 45 minutes. On a number of occasions Jobello displayed a notable first touch and great acceleration to give Simone Pecorini a tough time.

Sometimes the reaction of opponents can be the best indicator of the talent of the ball carrier. Watching Inter back-off the wide man after so comfortably handling the remaining three forwards was respect enough.

However, Jobello did suffer for the lack of ability around him and any move that showed promise inevitably disintegrated as Marseille were dumped out of the competition.

Plays a bit like: Joe Cole


Duncan is a 19-year-old Ghanaian midfielder who excelled at protecting Inter's defence. He performed the job commonly known as the 'Makelele Role' with aplomb, sitting in front of his centre-backs and either nicking balls off the feet of the oafish Marcellin Anani, or halting the runs of Florian Mouley.

He has a reliable left foot and wasn't afraid of hitting long, raking passes to his wingers.

You could suggest that he was playing the evolved version of the Makelele role as Duncan was frequently seen bursting from his shackles and charging at the heart of the French defence.

He was guilty of trying the 50-yard cross-field pass too often but, by and large, they were his only mistakes in an impressive showing. He is a dominant figure to look at and although tall and muscular, he did seem to lack a burst of acceleration.

That said, he showed there was plenty of talent stuffed into his left foot and unleashed a laser guided pile-driver that zipped marginally over the crossbar.

Plays a bit like: Sulley Muntari