Like his two defensive partners, Milan Skriniar was nothing short of brilliant this season. The 2019/20 season ended with him out of the starting eleven and close to a move to Tottenham Hotspur. Many Inter fans wondered if Conte’s approach suited the Slovakian wall, but he proved his quality with a string of important performances throughout the year.
Games Played: 39
What went right this season?
Milan Skriniar actually started the season in a similar place to Christian Eriksen and, like the Dane, showed massive improvement once he fully understood what the coach was asking of him. He didn’t miss a match between Rounds 7 and 34, picking up only two yellow cards in the process. Barella, Hakimi and Lukaku saw plenty of the ball down the right, but it was often Skriniar who initiated those moves or stepped up to cover the space left as these three pushed into the box.
Two really stand out for me. The first came against Lazio. Joaquin Correa was bursting into Inter’s penalty area at full speed when Skriniar stuck out a left foot and stopped the ball dead. Correa couldn’t believe it and neither could I, yet it was a wonderful example of the manner with which the Slovakian combines his strength with perfect timing to dispossess his opponent. The second came at the San Siro against Atalanta, as he popped up for Inter’s winning goal (with their only shot on target). The match had long been earmarked as a decisive game for Inter, and one of the last where people anticipated they could drop points. Gasperini’s men tried their best but were undone in the 54th minute as Skriniar prodded the ball home to give Inter the lead. The celebrations at the end of the match showed exactly how important that result was to the team.
What does he need to improve on?
It will be his third coach in four years, so once again Skrinar will be challenged to understand his defensive responsibilities. Inzaghi plays a similar style to Conte so the transition should be smoother than we saw when Conte first arrived. Perhaps the only thing we could ask would be for him to improve his long passing. We saw Bastoni and (on occasion) Kolarov switch play from the left to the right flank to catch the opposition out, but we rarely saw this going in the opposite direction. However, with Hakimi likely leaving, it remains to be seen whether Inter continue to prioritize the right flank or if we have a more attacking winger (Kostic, Di Marco etc.) on the left.
What role will he play in 2021/22?
The trio of Skriniar, De Vrij and Bastoni given Inter so much security that I would be shocked if any of them leave. The Slovakian will continue to be a pillar of our defence and a leader in our dressing room. If the club do manage to sign a new goalkeeper, we may also see a new captain on the pitch. I would be surprised if he takes on that role as well.