To speak of Mkhitaryan as a possible ‘deputy Calhanoglu’ would be really an understatement, as well as ungenerous towards the Armenian. Behind this blow there is much more; I would call it an ingenious purchase, of great tactical insight, should it actually go through. But, rest assured, he will not leave these statements suspended in the air, without arguing. We will go into this article in the heart of the “Portuguese” intuition by Inzaghi. I call it that because it comes from an idea of Fonsecainitially denied and then recovered and then developed by Mourinho same. On the other hand, the midfielder potentially functional to Inzaghi’s game should never be looked for following the traditional subdivisions by role, see for example Calhanoglu who was an attacking midfielder in Milan, or Luis Alberto himself at Lazio … Indeed, it becomes almost a prerequisite for understanding the game of the current Inter coach understand the criteria by which some players are selected. Because to understand the Nerazzurri today you have to look at the “Calhanoglu function” much more than it was necessary to look at Eriksen to understand Conte’s Inter. But then what would Mkhitaryan bring to Inter? Even as the twelfth man, I mean, as the first change of the ‘starting’ midfield or an alternative for a luxury turnover: what new would it bring?
EVOLUTION WITH MOURINHO – With Mourinho, Mkhitaryan had initially returned to playing the upper left winger, after Fonseca had moved him to the hybrid half-winger role, in his very fluid three-way systems. And so in the first races of this season we saw him in his old ‘role’, the one Mou had already known from his time in Manchester. But look at this development of Roma’s 4-2-3-1 against Fiorentina. The four defenders in red, the midfielders in blue, the offensive players in fuchsia.
If we did not know the names of the players and their starting roles, we could easily mistake this development of the 4-2-3-1 for a 3-5-2, the game system of Inter. This is why playing today’s football through traditional roles is like confusing a SpaceX rocket with native totem poles.
Inzaghi from a similar game development, on paper unrelated to his system, captures information. He realizes that Mkhitaryan likes to emerge as a function in certain spaces. And so the intuition of seeing him left midfielder, for example, in his Inter Milan was born.
INZAGHI’S “PORTUGUESE” INTUITION- Not that Mkhitaryan has completely ignored that role in the past two years. We were talking about Fonseca, who to balance his 3-4-2-1 sometimes accentuated the defensive tasks of one of the two backs, asking him to become a mezzala in the 5-3-2 of the defensive phase. Mourinho himself, changing his mind and going back in the footsteps of his predecessor in some ways, often had to rely on the Armenian to solve certain problems in the Giallorossi midfield. Or maybe to surprise the opponent, as in the case of Bergamo (18 December 2021: Atalanta-Roma 1-4), choosing a 3-5-2.
Above it is evident the possibility of superimposing this ‘position’ of Mkhitaryan to that of Calhanoglu in Inter.
JUST ONE CHANGE OF CALHA? – But Mkhitaryan is not only a candidate to be deputy Calha, thus maintaining the level of quality guaranteed by the Turkish in the first sixty minutes even in the final game (a substitution of technical depth that was missing in Inter’s midfield). In addition to sharing Hakan’s football intelligence by a sort of elective affinity, the Armenian adds things. More than Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan is equipped with change of pace. And this virtue always comes as a surprise among the opposing midfielders, who usually don’t have the same acceleration. It is as if the Yerevan playmaker kept his best qualities as a former striker to gain lethal advantages in different areas of the pitch. Because yes, he knows how to associate with his teammates, set up, dribble and maneuver in the strait, but also split the departments on the restart. Like in Empoli on the occasion of Zaniolo’s goal, when everything was born from his race.
COULD YOU ALSO REPLACE STRETCHER? – But beware also of Barella (who was often replaced before Calhanoglu during the year…). Not infrequently the Armenian was deployed by Mourinho on the center-right. For example against the Goddess in the second leg, and always using the 5-3-2 / 3-5-2.
Also, see also the beginning of the Conference final immortalized below, Mkhitaryan was used very frequently in a strange 3-4-2-1 / 3-4-1-2 right on that side, practically alongside the more defensive Cristante and almost to manage the entire direction of Rome, while Pellegrini got up under the two points on the other.
All this is possible because Mkhitaryan has a very educated weak foot, so little weak and so polite that we could even define him as an ambidextrous player.
THE ARMENIAN IS NOT A DOUBLE OF THE TURKISH, Rather … – Perhaps it would be more correct to see in Mkhitaryan a sort of wild card for Inzaghi. It could be the change of the Turk or of Barella during the game in progress, maybe he will also make the second striker sometimes, in any case his serpentine ball and chain in the middle corridors will be new and important for Inter. Perhaps we will also see matches in which Inzaghi will want to return to play with two midfielder-attacking midfielders, as happened in Lazio with Luis Alberto and Milinkovic-Savic. So we would have Brozovic at the bottom, Calhanoglu on the left and Mkhitaryan on the right, two midfielder-attacking midfielders much more dynamic than the two from Lazio. But this as an alternative or hyper-technical suggestion, or even just to give Barella a little rest (the changes that Inzaghi had in midfield were all defensive last year). On the other hand Mkhitaryan on the center-right could undermine the ownership of Barella in certain particular moments (and not just that of Calhanoglu). Because the Armenian is capable of doing these so here …
Identify an opening, the weak point of a team deployed, and enter it in conduction by jumping opponents like pins.
This point against La Spezia with Frisbee in Pellegrini’s belly is truly remarkable. Mkhitaryan at Inter would be an upgrade from all points of view, other than “vice”.
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