Welcome to our Matteo Darmian 2020/21 report card. As part of our post-season coverage, we’ll be dishing out grades and analyzing every Inter player’s season.
Games Played: 33 (19 starts, 1,519 minutes)
What went right this season?
The highlight of Inter’s 20/21 summer transfer window was the arrivals of Achraf Hakimi and Arturo Vidal, and understandably so; Hakimi looked like a permanent fixture on the right flank while Vidal added a decade of experience and to an already stacked midfield department. Matteo Darmian, however, was the real surprise of the summer. We talked about his campaign in greater detail here, but it bears repeating. Darmian went from an underwhelming depth signing to a key part of Inter’s Scudetto victory and was the surprise of the season.
The 31-year-old started the season with Parma and made three appearances at the Tardini before Inter swooped in. Darmian was seen as an inferior replacement to the outgoing Diego Godin and Antonio Candreva. In fact, Aleksandar Kolarov was seen by many as the better signing at the time, myself included. But Darmian proved his doubters utterly wrong. The Italian was a reliable rotation piece across the backline and rose to the occasion in big moments. He scored in Inter’s must-win Champions League game at Borussia Monchengladbach and drew the game-winning penalty against Napoli.
Most memorable from Darmian's debut season was his pair of late game-winners against Cagliari and Hellas Verona. Inter was finding any way possible to grind out narrow victories week after week in March and April. Both Cagliari and Verona, however, were only minutes from stopping the Nerazzurri’s lengthy winning run but luckily, Darmian had other ideas. He scored a pair of practically identical goals at the back post to give Inter two 1-0 wins and four important points to extend Conte’s side’s lead at the top of the table.
What does he need to improve on?
Some of Darmian’s best performances came off the bench but with rumors swirling over Hakimi’s exit, the 31-year-old might be pushed into a bigger role next season. After a incredibly successful debut campaign, he can take the next step forward by providing the same output across ninety minutes.
What role will he play in 2021/22?
Darmian will be again be a key piece next Fall and likely utilized in much the same way in Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 as under Conte. Having depth of his quality is vital if Inter is going to challenge on multiple fronts.