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Inter’s battle at left-back

Dalbert or Nagatomo. Who wins?

Having too much depth can never be a bad thing. That is unless you’re trying to figure out who your regular starter should be.

Well, this is one of the many decisions that Luciano Spalletti has to make on a regular basis. Spalletti is being offered the battle of the left back between Dalbert and Yuto Nagatomo.

Will he pick youth and pace over experience within the position? Maybe this piece will make it a bit easier for Spalletti. Or, maybe not.


Benevento Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Dalbert comes as a new signing of the club when joining from Ligue 1 side OGC Nice for a reported 20 million euros. The Brazilian comes at just 24 years of age and has played on full European season with Nice last season. That is, he has one year of starting experience in European competition.

Don’t get fooled though. Dalbert has held his own since arriving to Inter this past summer. The left back averages 1.4 tackles per game along with 1.6 interceptions so far this season. He’s averaging around a 7.06 match rating in three Serie A contests so far.

Dalbert loves to jump up in the offensive play too. He makes around 30 passes a game, completing 85 percent of them.

As mentioned before, Dalbert loves using his pace to dribble down the field. He reminds me of another Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. Both prefer to use pace, dribble through space, and occasionally try to send in a few crosses as well.

The problem with playing almost like a wing back as that there are times when Dalbert can be caught out of his true position.

From my perspective, any team in the Serie A is not shy in trying to hit Inter on the counter attack. Arguably, Internazionale have yet to play the best Serie A has to offer. The risk of pulling forward might have to stop against Juventus and Napoli, but that remains to be seen.

As of right now, Dalbert looks to be the go to guy for Spalletti. He contains most of the attributes you’d like to see out of your young left back. The best and most benefiting part for Inter is that he might still have room to grow.

Yuto Nagatomo

Benevento Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Nagatomo on the other hand has been with the Nerazzurri since the 2011 season. Yuto signed a deal that keep him with Inter until 2019 that he signed two summers ago. He’s made 162 appearances for the club at the age of 31. Nagatomo also has 91 caps for the Japanese National Team, scoring 3 goals in the process.

With less playing time than Dalbert, Nagatomo has been able to keep pace with the Brazilian. He averages 1 tackle per game and completes about 90 percent of his passes. His average match rating might be lower than Dalbert’s, but we have to remember how often he’s on the pitch.

Coming with Nagatomo’s experience is the ability to reflect on his career statistics. He’s tallied 9 goals for Inter, five of which come from the 2013-14 season. Dalbert has 1 goal to his name in every club he’s played for, European or not. Goals from the left back position may not be crucial, but it’s pretty impressive to note when they can make an impact on the offensive side of the pitch.

Nagatomo has also won trophies with both Inter and Japan. Of course, Nagatomo was with Inter while they won the Serie A in 2010-11. He won the AFC Asian Cup in 2011 with Japan as they defeated Australia in the finals.

With experience comes age, which seems to loom over Nagatomo’s head at the moment. Football is most definitely a pacey game. Can the 31-year-old keep up with the pace of some of Serie A’s best? To extend further, would he be able to compete within a potential Champions League squad one day?

Maybe he could. But an even bigger problem would be his translation to starting minutes. He’d likely play around at max 65 minutes per game, which I’m assuming would then be filled by Dalbert.

Who’s your choice?

Help Spalletti out. Put yourself in the manager role. Who are you picking at left back for Inter Milan? Are you sticking with the young Dalbert, or are you going to choose the Inter veteran in Nagatomo?

Let us know in the comments below! We love to hear your opinions. Plus, Luciano Spalletti might be reading too.