We have already discussed the challenges facing Inter Milan this week as they get set for the second leg of their Europa League round of 16 match-up with Eintracht Frankfurt Thursday and the Derby della Madonnina Sunday.
The Nerazzurri will be without striker Lautaro Martinez for Thursday’s Europa League match and it is still unclear if Mauro Icardi will even be in the stadium for the game.
So, with Inter’s attack in question, one player has the opportunity to make a name for himself: Keita Balde.
The Senegalese has been absent after suffering an injury weeks ago, but he is reportedly on the mend and could be available Thursday.
The timing could not be better for Balde who is battling for the opportunity to remain with the Nerazzurri after the season is over.
Inter picked him up from Monaco on a €4 million loan with a purchase option of around €35 million this summer. However, injury and lack of consistent production have likely not shown that kind of a value to Inter management.
That’s not to suggest that Inter CEO Beppe Marotta won’t go to the Ligue 1 side and see if there can be a reduction, but if the price holds, the value isn’t there to redeem Balde in the off-season.
That’s why this week poses an opportunity for Balde to prove his value and come into a situation where Inter need him to produce more than ever.
Frankfurt is coming off a 3-0 win at Fortuna Monday, scoring all three goals in the final half — two of which coming from Sebastien Haller in stoppage time. Even though Inter was able to hold Frankfurt scoreless in the first leg in Germany, there has to be the expectation that Die Adler will come out with guns blazing Thursday.
With Inter’s offense in tatters thanks to injury and suspension, it is Balde who can be a big hero, if Inter can advance Thursday.
That’s not to say that Balde’s season has been all bad. He has started seven matches for Luciano Spalletti, scoring four goals — including two against Frosinone in November — and adding three assists. However, that hardly justifies a €35 million buyout at the end of the season.
So, if Balde has any hopes of remaining a part of the Nerazzurri, these next few matches are going to be key.
What do you think? Post your comments below!