Welcome to our Aleksandar Kolarov 2020/21 report card. As part of our post-season coverage, we’ll be dishing out grades and analyzing every Inter player’s season.
Transfer rumors always vary from reality but the contrast between fact and fiction in Inter’s 2020 summer transfer window was particularly striking. The Nerazzurri went from heavy links with two of the most promising youngsters in Serie A, Marash Kumbulla and Sandro Tonali, to signing the veteran duo of Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov. While the former two have struggled to click at Roma and Milan respectively, Inter certainly didn’t win the deal either.
Position: Center-back/Left Wing-back
Games Played: 11 (7 starts, 714 minutes)
What went right this season?
Kolarov’s Inter career got off to a disastrous start, though thanks to only partial fault of the Serbian. With an injury crisis in defense, Conte was forced to start him at center back in the first three games of the season. Kolarov wasn’t comfortable on the outside of a back-three and his lack of pace was exposed frequently. Even 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed to outrun him in the October edition of the Derby Della Madonnina before Kolarov clumsily took Zlatan down in the box to give Milan the opener. And while Kolarov did cease to gift the opposition penalty kicks, the rest of his time at the San Siro didn’t improve much.
Zlatan may have gotten the best of Kolarov in their first meeting but the latter would have the last laugh in the January Coppa Italia quarter-final. Already on a yellow, the Swede was baited into tripping Kolarov up in midfield and received his marching orders. With Milan down to ten, Inter pressed its advantage and suffocated the now-leaderless Rossoneri en route to a memorable 2-1 victory. Whereas the first time Kolarov and Zlatan came face to face and Milan won its first derby in years, the second saw Inter take a massive step towards the Scudetto. And rather poetically, both were defined in part by how the battle between the two veterans player out.
What does he need to improve on?
After a rocky 2020 to say the least, Kolarov practically disappeared come 2021. He made only five appearances since January, as he simultaneously lost Conte’s trust and struggled with fitness. Kolarov put in solid shifts in a pair of Coppa cameos but last started in January. He was an unused sub on 20 occasions and out injured another seventeen. In other words, yikes.
What role will he play in 2021/22?
Unlike in the case of Vidal, Kolarov’s contract expires this summer so he won’t trouble the Nerazzurri on the books or pitch any longer. Even if Simone Inzaghi is enamored with Kolarov (highly unlikely), Inter’s finances don’t allow him to stay anyways.
Overall Grade: E- (2/10)
For a player that was clearly brought in via Conte’s specific request, it’s disappointing how little Kolarov contributed. He was more or less a non-factor (if not a net negative) and couldn’t offer any of the starting XI a reliable backup. Conte did mention his veteran experience, however, as an important part of the locker room so perhaps all wasn’t lost.