Matteo Darmian: Inter’s unsung hero plugging a Milan Skriniar-shaped gap

Rising to the occasion to become Inter's goalscoring hero in the Coppa Italia against Atalanta, Matteo Darmian has proven to be a reliable figure in the absence of Milan Skriniar.

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The past few weeks at Inter have been overshadowed by the drama surrounding the future of centre-back Milan Skriniar, as he closes in on securing a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season after rejecting a new contract. Yet, amidst all this, wingback Matteo Darmian has quietly been establishing himself as a key player for the Nerazzurri.

As reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, the former Manchester United player has firmly established himself as a fan favourite recently with a string of reliable performances, often at centre-back in place of Skriniar.

Darmian stepped in to the backline when the Slovakia international was sent off in the 1-0 defeat to Empoli last month, whilst he retained that role as Inter overcame Cremonese in a 2-1 win in Serie A, impressing in a back three alongside Francesco Acerbi and Alessandro Bastoni.

However, his crowning moment came in the Coppa Italia, with Darmian the unlikely goalscoring hero to secure a 1-0 win over Atalanta and book Inter‘s place in the semi-finals.

Loyal Darmian earns respect of Inter fans

With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, Darmian has accepted a renewal for another year, with the option for an additional season, and at a reduced wage.

Whilst he is six years older than Skriniar, at 33, and does not have the enticing prospect of playing alongside Lionel Messi and co. at PSG awaiting him, Darmian has nonetheless proven himself to be a loyal and determined member of the Inter squad.

Indeed, the ex-AC Milan academy graduate has forced his way into coach Simone Inzaghi‘s first team and is expected to keep his place in the Derby della Madonnina against the Rossoneri, either at centre-back or out on the flank.

Inter’s Milan Skriniar is shown a red card. (Photo: Getty)

Bargain signing proving his worth

Arriving at Inter from Parma in 2020 on an initial loan, and to little fanfare, Darmian has proven to be one of the most astute signings in the club’s recent history, for his versatility, reliability, and team ethic.

After easing into the role of squad member under Antonio Conte, Inter signed Darmian outright for €3.3 million at the end of a year in which he proved a crucial cog in the coach’s Scudetto-winning side that season. He netted crucial winners against Cagliari and Hellas Verona in April 2021 to edge the Nerazzurri to the title, and served as a capable deputy to Achraf Hakimi.

The former Torino player has made 91 appearances for Inter and rarely let the Biscione down, with eight of those games coming at centre-back. Whilst he may not be the most glamourous name on the teamsheet, Darmian has earned the trust of both Conte and Inzaghi, as well as Inter supporters.

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