After pushing to secure his services in the summer, Inter coach Simone Inzaghi is still trying to work out how to fit Davide Frattesi into his plans and the midfielder’s limited playing time is leading to long-term questions over his space in the squad.
The Italy Men’s National Team international completed a loan move from Sassuolo in July, but the deal includes an obligation to make the deal permanent next summer for €27 million, whilst the total cost of the operation could rise to €33m.
Inter pip AS Roma to midfielder
Given the strong interest in Frattesi from the likes of hometown club AS Roma, as well as Juventus and AC Milan, Inter appeared to have won a tightly-contested race for his signature but the move has not gone to plan.
The 24-year-old has been used as an impact player from the bench for Inzaghi but even that has seen his time limited, with a tense 1-1 draw against Genoa in December not enough to convince the coach to throw Frattesi on before the 79th minute.
Frattesi was able to make an impact in Matchday 19 after stepping off the bench to net a last-gasp winner in a 2-1 victory over Hellas Verona, but it remains to be seen if this is enough to force more league starts.
Untouchable Barella, Calhanoglu and Mkhitaryan
Whilst his time on the pitch is proving to be far less frequent than many anticipated when Inter committed to such a costly deal, there is no sense of anything malicious to it and the situation has been created by the excellent form of Inzaghi‘s first choice midfield three.
Indeed, it is hard to see how any of Nicolo Barella, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, or Hakan Calhanoglu can be dropped currently, and with Inter leading the race for the Serie A title the coach is in no mood for experimentation.
Such is the former Lazio tactician’s determination to limit risk, Frattesi has only started against Empoli in place of Barella and against Fiorentina when Barella and Calhanoglu were suspended. Meanwhile the only other change to the starting trio was Davy Klaassen coming in for Mkhitaryan against Salernitana when Frattesi was injured.
Champions League giving Frattesi stage to impress
However, Frattesi has seen far more action in cup competitions, with the ex-Sassuolo man establishing himself as a starter in the Champions League and the Coppa Italia. In the former, Frattesi has been named in the starting line-up in four of Inter’s six group games and netted against RB Salzburg and Benfica.
Yet, for such a hefty price tag both player and fans must have expected more opportunities to help Inter secure a first league title since 2021. It is perhaps indicative of how highly the scudetto is valued this year that Inzaghi is rotating in Europe, leaving Frattesi out of the picture.
For the ex-Monza loanee, the second half of the season may prove pivotal in establishing himself in the team and confirming that he made the right decision to pick the Nerazzurri over other interested parties.
His late impact against Verona will surely help, but Frattesi‘s hopes of being included in Italy‘s Euro 2024 squad could take a hit if he doesn’t force himself into the reckoning soon.