Frattesi In, Brozovic Out: Is Inter’s New Midfield Stronger or Weaker?

While the writing has been on the wall for quite some time, the transfers have finally been announced in what was another busy week at the Viale della Liberazione. In an unintentionally hilarious video, Al-Nassr announced the acquisition of Marcelo Brozovic, so Inter were quick to reinvest the sum collected on Davide Frattesi.

Between the departing Croatian and the arriving Italian, the Nerazzurri have replaced one quality midfielder with another, albeit with different characteristics. Naturally, this maneuver will leave a significant impact on the team’s dynamics. Ahead of next season, Simone Inzaghi will have some reshuffling to do in the middle of the park.

But will this change provide an important boost for the Nerazzurri, or will it cost the club in terms of quality?

Let’s analyse how the dynamics will play out at the Giuseppe Meazza next season in light of the latest change of guard.

The Elusive Brozo

In his eight years at Inter, Brozovic certainly had his highs and lows. But during Antonio Conte’s reign, he cemented himself as the best Regista in Italian football. The 30-year-old was the beating heart of the team; controlling the tempo, distribution play, elegantly bringing the ball out of the deep areas and picking up his teammates with exquisite plays.

Therefore, finding a like-to-like replacement for the Croatia international is an extremely difficult task. So Giuseppe Marotta and Piero Ausilio had the wisdom to avoid a futile search for an alternative who may or may not exist.

Instead, the Beneamata swooped for a younger midfielder in the shape of Frattesi who shares little in common with Brozovic in terms of playing characteristics, but is hoping to find similar success at Inter.

A Different Beast

As we mentioned above, Frattesi is a different type of midfielder, at least when compared to the Croatian’s latest version. When Brozovic first rose to the scene, he used to occupy a more advanced position on the pitch. But in recent years, he became associated with the deep-lying playmaker position, a role which he genuinely mastered.

On the other hand, the former Sassuolo man is your typical box-to-box midfielder. A generous player who offers contribution all over the pitch. He also excels at sneaking behind the defense and putting himself in a perfect position to score.

Inter will be hoping that their new signing manages to replicate the same scoring prowess demonstrated at the Mapei Stadium in the last two seasons.

The New Barella?

In a recent interview, Frattesi earmarked his Italy teammate Nicolò Barella as the “role model” that he bases his game on. This statement isn’t surprising considering that the young man is an up-and-coming box-to-box midfielder while his slightly older compatriot has cemented himself as the blueprint in this particular role.

Now that the two players find themselves sharing the same dressing room on both club and international levels, the bond between the two should further strengthen. But will Inzaghi manage to smoothly fit them in the same lineup, or will they prove to be too similar to coexist?

In another interesting statement made prior to his Inter switch, the former Sassuolo player insisted that he’ll pick his next destination based on tactical suitability. In other words, the young man had the wisdom to understand that the difference between success and failure could well depend on selecting the right tactical project.

So as a natural Mezzala, Frattesi recognized the importance of joining a club that constantly utilizes three midfielders. Surely he must have studied how feasible it would be to join a squad that already possesses the ultimate box-to-box midfielder in Serie A.

But in Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 formation, Frattesi knows that there’s just enough room for another Mezzala. If Barella is the undisputed starter in the right central midfield position, then the new boy will have to carve himself a place on the left side, which will inevitably spark a duel with a certain Armenian.

Inevitable Duel

With Barella comfortably occupying one central midfield spot, Frattesi’s best hopes of securing a starting berth lies on the other side of the midfield trident. However, Henrikh Mkhitaryan won’t relinquish his spot easily.

The 34-year-old proved to be reliable, generous and at times decisive. Therefore, Frattesi might find himself facing an uphill task from the get-go. But thanks to the packed fixture list, the Italian will certainly have his chances, especially when considering the advanced age of his Armenian teammate/foe.

Therefore, it’s up to the Italy international to make the most of his early chances and lay a solid claim for a regular spot.

All About Hakan

After discussing all midfield components in details, we’ve finally reached the lynchpin who must link them all together. This piece started with the following question: “Is Inter’s midfielder stronger or weaker with Frattesi in and Brozovic out?”

However, the answer might not lie with Frattesi, at least not solely, but rather with the man who will technically replace Brozovic in his fundamental role on the pitch.

Last season, Hakan Calhanoglu suddenly transformed himself into a deep-lying playmaker. With Brozovic missing a host of matches. Once the latter returned to full fitness, the Turk resumed his duties in a more advanced role.

But with Brozovic now plying his trade in the Saudi Pro League, Calhanoglu will most probably become a full-time Regista. With Kristjan Asllani still too green, the Turkish international remains the lone viable option for the complex role.

So while Hakan managed to present himself as a reliable player in the deep role, it remains to be seen if he can fully convert himself into a Regista, pulling off the strings in the middle of the park.


After selling Brozovic and buying Frattesi, Inter have traded experience with youth, and craftiness with dynamism. Needless to say, there are two sides of the coin, and it depends on how each person chooses to read it.

But all in all, it feels that the midfield has become slightly weaker following the departure of a player who consisted a significant part of the club’s backbone in recent years. However, Frattesi is still years away from his peak years. So this switch should still end up paying dividends in the future.

However, the most vital element in the whole equation could be Calhanoglu and his ability to emulate the elegant performances of Brozovic on a consistent basis. In the absence of a viable alternative, the success of the whole midfield formula may well rest on the shoulders of the Turkey international.

So will he prove to be up to the task? Only time will tell.

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One comment

  1. Brozovic in recent times would be a nice calm presence in midfield in big matches but in the smaller matches would move the ball too slowly. I think he was moved along at the right time, too inconsistent. When Hakan plays the role he does it with more intensity and directness than Brozovic and it is more pleasing to watch. I think with Hakan/Aslanni, Mikki/Frattessi, Barella/Frattesi Midfield it is stronger.

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