It’s been a rollercoaster season for Inter Milan. Luciano Spalletti’s side dip in and out of form for fun. Just when the Nerazzurri find their rhythm, Radja Nainggolan goes clubbing or Mauro Icardi’s wife, Wanda Nara makes a controversial television appearance.
Amidst all the drama, Roberto Gagliardini has been a consistent part of the team. The 25-year-old rarely gets the praise, though, overlooked while Icardi and others hug all the spotlight.
This was the case when Inter thrashed Genoa 4-0. Spalleti’s men produced the perfect response to a shocking home defeat against Lazio at Stadio Comunale Luigi. Gagliardini grabbed a superb brace yet all the plaudits centred on the returning Icardi.
The pragmatic Argentine was frozen out since being stripped of the captaincy amid protracted contract renewal talks. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the 26-year-old’s future at San Siro in the summer, he was praised on Wednesday.
On his return, he won and converted a penalty, crashed the post and threaded a pass through the eye of a needle for Ivan Perisic to score the third. The 26-year-old showed Spalletti just what he’s been missing.
Indeed Icardi had an impact. The Genoese defence stayed tight to him, doubling up at times, leaving others open. Matteo Politano and Nainggolan thrived with hectares of space to operate, offering a tempo and creativity rarely seen this season.
It was a classy display from the former captain. However, on the night and perhaps for most of the season, Gagliardini rose taller. As well as scoring twice, his movement, precision and pace caused the opposition problems.
The 26-year-old midfielder is always willing to run at defenders, showing an uncommon knack for duels. Gagliardini isn’t afraid to take risks whether it is running between two players or trying a new skill entirely. He always has that suspense factor.
Inter re-established an eight-point lead over Lazio although the Eagles retain a game in hand. In third place with 56 points, they are four better of than their city rivals Milan, who lost to Juventus yesterday, and an additional point ahead of Atalanta in fifth. Another result against La Dea will lift them clear in the top four race.
Gagliardini has already surpassed his best tally of two league goals with three more this season. Impressively, though, he struck three times in his last four games. Many thought he would be heading out of Milan this summer, but Inter appear to have a new hero.