Inter Milan have had a really peculiar campaign, even though the appointment of Luciano Spalletti had heralded talk of the Milan giants possibly pushing Juventus in the Serie A title race.
No sooner had the former AS Roma boss been appointed than the signings of Radja Nainggolan, Lautaro Martinez, Stefan de Vrij, Keita Balde (who was loaned from AS Monaco) and Kwadwo Asamoah were announced.
Inter Milan’s squad this season is too good:— Mitchell (@Procter__) July 25, 2018
With Luciano Spaletti at the helm too they should definitely pose a big threat to Juventus, along with Lazio, who are underrated
However, with the season now in its home straight, Inter find themselves in third place on 60 points, 24 behind the Old Lady, whose dominance in the Italian top flight is soon to be extended for an eighth successive year.
Asamoah and his teammates suffered the ignominy of elimination in the Champions League at the group stage, ending third in a group that also featured Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur, two of the current semi-finalists. That is no consolation for Spalletti given expectations were higher at the start of the campaign.
They didn’t pull up any trees in the Europa League either, getting knocked out by Eintracht Frankfurt in truly disappointing fashion. It ended 1-0 on aggregate to the German side, but the slender defeat didn’t tell the full story – the Italians were outplayed and outfoxed.
No wonder Spalletti claimed afterwards that his side “lacked a bit of everything”.
A fight to slug it out for third place probably wasn’t what Asamoah signed up for when he made the switch to the Milan giants in the summer of 2018. Even though he’d likely known deep down the title was a tough ask, a much more competent challenge might have been expected.
Instead, there has been in-fighting, with Spalletti at the centre of everything; the nonsense that surrounded Mauro Icardi boiled over and threatened to derail their season, and the coach's decision to strip him of the captaincy and air internal issues in public brought Inter down. Staying quiet or answering with a bit more tact would have sufficed.
Prior to the aforementioned was a little spat among manager, director (Beppe Marotta) and Ivan Perisic over the winger’s failed move away from the club in the winter window.
Through all the acrimony that’s surrounded the Black and Blues since the turn of the year, Asamoah has soldiered on, striving to give his best for the cause. While his form predictably dipped in February and for a while the following month, the Ghanaian has found his best form since mid-March to show his worth to the team.
The standout performance within that period came in the final fixture of the previous month against Lazio.
Arguably Inter’s best player on the day, Kojo won all but one of his nine duels at the San Siro, completed all his eight long-range passes, only failed to beat his marker once in four attempts, and completed 93.5 percent of short-range passes. The home side, however, lost 1-0.
It’s been an intermittent theme for the West African this year, where he’s ended a number of games without the reward of three points after putting in a high level of industry and application.
Inconsistency of results is why I Nerazzurri head into the final weeks of the campaign looking over their shoulder in the battle to make Europe’s most prestigious competition next year.
Spalletti’s side in third with 60 points are five clear of city rivals AC Milan, six clear of AS Roma and seven clear of Atalanta in sixth. Seventh-placed Lazio, who play already relegated Chievo Verona this weekend have 52 points.
With the meeting between Spalletti’s troops and Claudio Ranieri’s side at San Siro, that gap could be reduced to three if the away side rain on Inter’s parade. While the Yellow and Reds’ current form, which reads two losses in five, makes such a scenario improbable, stranger things have happened.
Conversely, it should be noted, though, that Ranieri’s men have picked up seven points in their last three games, so perhaps they’re also hitting a nice purple patch at the right time.
The club from the capital haven’t tasted defeat in two consecutive visits to Inter and will fancy extending that run to three.
While many quickly rushed to the opinion that the 18-time Serie A winners could put an end to the Juventus hegemony, Asamoah and his teammates have failed to live up to their billing over the season, instead slugging it out for a top four finish.
That’s the barest minimum for a club of Inter’s size, as failure to play in the continent’s top competition next term would surely be catastrophic.