There was a particular extract from Marcus Thuram‘s recent interview that is likely to have resonated in many fans’ ears as the French slalomed his way through Frosinone‘s box to earn the penalty that allowed Inter to double their lead in their 2-0 home win against the Gialloblu.
“I first was contacted by Inter two years ago”, the French international told L’Equipe. “Back then, I was playing as an offensive [left] winger but they had already envisioned me as a central striker, a number 9.
“Few had this kind of idea, but they showed a very precise awareness of my potential development.”
A few months after he arrived at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza it turned out that Inter‘s executives were more than right in their assessment.
Marcus Thuram’s evolution from winger to all-round striker
Thuram joined the Nerazzurri on a free transfer to strengthen an attack that, at least on paper, should’ve also included Romelu Lukaku, the marksman that he was probably tasked with shadowing in the club’s initial plans.
Instead, the departure of the Belgian opened up a void that the Biscione eventually decided not to fill, asking Thuram to cope with the apparently cumbersome task of becoming Lautaro Martinez‘s attacking partner.
But fast forward to mid-November and it is crystal clear that Thuram has proved to be much more than Lukaku‘s replacement. As much as it may have been impossible to think back in the summer, the Frenchman is taking Inter‘s attack to a whole new level and the trust shown by Simone Inzaghi in him represents his shift in status.
When Thuram signed for Inter, about two years after being initially put on the Nerazzurri’s radar, he had just had his first full season playing as a striker with Borussia Monchengladbach, which saw him score 13 goals from 30 Bundesliga games.
Before then, the Frenchman had always been confined to the left wing, where he could thrive in open spaces, making the most of his impressive speed and dribbling skills. This was probably one of the reasons why many doubted his capability to permanently adjust to a new role in his first experience for a huge team. He would need to score goals to be deemed a success.
But in contrast to what most expected, Thuram took no time in becoming Lautaro‘s ideal attacking partner, as he immediately looked at ease in Inzaghi‘s 3-5-2 formation, as further proved by his four goals and eight assists racked up in his first 12 Serie A games.
What Thuram has brought to Inter so far
The team’s tactical setup seems to enhance Thuram‘s great versatility, as he’s required to either sprint past the opponents’ defenders, making their decision of keeping a very high backline potentially risky, or dropping deep to receive the ball and start attacks, notably thanks to his close control in tight spaces and ability to shield the ball when he’s man-marked.
His growing chemistry with Lautaro is benefitting the whole team, who can adapt to different approaches according to the game or their opponents’ strengths, knowing they can be capable of either producing lethal breaks or penning their opponent into their box.
It is probably no coincidence that, after managing Thuram‘s playing time more carefully in the first weeks of the season, Inzaghi kept the striker on the pitch for the full 90 minutes in five of Inter‘s last nine games across all competitions.
He’s become aware of the fact that the French international has turned into one of the most impactful players in Serie A, capable of deciding a game at any time, and his ability to maintain this level in the long run will probably say a lot about Inter‘s chances of winning silverware this season.