Ever since Antonio Conte joined Inter, Arturo Vidal’s name was constantly linked with a move to the Nerazzurri. But once the Chilean finally arrived at the gates of the San Siro, he was far from what the advertisement promised.
Position: Center Midfielder
Games Played: 30 (21 starts, 1,679 minutes)
What went right this season?
Even putting his €7 million salary aside, the 2020/21 campaign saw the Chilean hit very few notes. His most consistent stretch came at the start of the season when he started twelve of the first sixteen games. Rather than hit the ground running in Milan, Vidal instead made several high-profile errors. But when he wasn’t conceding penalties or picking up needless red cards, the 34-year-old did a serviceable job in midfield. He was fifth on Inter in tackles won (1.8 per 90) and pressures (23.24 per 90). At times Vidal was able to take control of the center of the pitch and smother opposition attack after attack. Unfortunately, those times came even less often than Roberto Gagliardini goals.
While Vidal’s overall season was a wash, he did leave a sizeable mark on the Nerazzurri. In the first Derby d’Italia of 2021, he headed home Nicolo Barella’s cross to send Inter marching towards a crucial victory over the ex-champions. He managed to kiss a Juventus logo before kickoff, but all was forgiven twelve minutes in.
ARTUROOOOOOO VIDAL! 1-0 to Inter pic.twitter.com/bpo5ImEL3U— SM1LEY9 (@Smiley_1932) January 17, 2021
What does he need to improve on?
For a player with as much experience as he was touted to possess, Vidal sure made quite a few needless errors. He found a way to get two yellow cards thirty minutes into Inter’s Champions League tie against Real Madrid thanks to a confrontation with the referee following a reckless tackle. Vidal also conceded penalties against Milan and Borussia Monchengladbach. Yet again, poor decision-making on the Chilean’s part was to blame. Considering his veteran status was the reason Conte was so enamored with signing him, those errors were inexcusable.
What role will he play in 2021/22?
Vidal also struggled with fitness and missed thirteen games due to injury, including knee surgery. As if that’s not enough, his salary is one of the highest on Inter. It’s difficult to envision Vidal on the San Siro pitch come next fall, but the real trick will be finding a buyer. Luckily his contract lasts for only one more season and perhaps Simone Inzaghi will petition to keep him around, but the Inter era of Vidal’s career looks like it will be far from anyone’s favorite.