In a summer that was becoming quite tumultuous, Antonio Candreva's signing provided many Inter fans with a modicum of optimism. There were rumors regarding both our captain as well as our coach, and with new leadership in charge, everyone had reason to be skeptical about the direction of the club. Although Roberto Mancini did leave as a result of a fraction with the new owners, Suning did prove their resolve as they bolstered the squad further with more signings of intent.
Many though have questioned the value of signing Antonio Candreva. An aging star signed for a high price does not usually equate to successful piece of business. Now, as Candreva's form has faded in recent weeks, more and more people are questioning the merit of his acquisition.
The season did not start particularly well for Candreva or Inter Milan. Under De Boer, the team struggled to get wins and score goals from anyone not named Mauro Icardi. Candreva himself did not get his first Inter goal until he scored against Southampton in the Europa League. As Candreva only has five league goals, it appears he will be unable to match his goal tally of ten from last season. This on the surface appears to show regression, but six of his goals last season came from the penalty spot. So Candreva has arguably shown improvement from last year in this category. In the past six games, Candreva has scored two goals which is not a bad return for a winger. So, although he is not a prolific scorer, Candreva can score.
Scoring is not where Candreva has been impacting the team most. Candreva's main role within the team is to create chances mainly by crossing the ball. Lately, Candreva has been receiving more than his fair share of criticism for the team's inefficient crossing. Inter lead the league in number of crosses, but are terrible ineffective on these attempts as they rarely ever connect on these crosses. This can be attributed to the way Inter play. When the wide players cross, often the only player in the box is Icardi so it is not hard to believe that the crosses do not connect because we are often outnumbered in the box. Candreva has been an excellent source of offense for the team as has contributed eight league assist throughout the season, including the two he got against Atalanta. Which is a definite improvement over the three assists he got last season.
This season, Candreva has shown marked improvement from last season and has been a consistent performer for this team. Not only has he brought some consistency to the right side, but he has also chipped in with a wonderful work ethic. He has also brought a different threat to Inter's attack this season. On the other flank, Ivan Perisic has brought a more direct goal scoring threat. Perisic tends to be more of a direct threat while Candreva whips in the crosses. These two complement each other superbly and Pioli has done a wonderful job of getting the attack to flow with chemistry.
Over his past ten league games, Candreva has scored two goals and provided a further four assists. These games were not perfect as Candreva struggled in a few of them, but that is including two games (Juventus and AS Roma) when Pioli played Candreva out of position as a wing back. Pioli realized after these two games that Candreva is not well suited to that role and returned Candreva to his natural position out on the right wing.
Now the price paid for Candreva may have been a tad bit excessive for a player close to exiting his prime, but he has contributed to the squad immeasurably. The recent suggestions implying that Candreva is no longer playing up to scratch have some merit, but must be looked at further, because many of the games when Candreva underperformed was due to the fact that he was played out of position. Ultimately, Candreva has been a wonderful addition to our squad and currently should not be benched as his experience and quality are invaluable.