Simone Inzaghi could throw Lautaro Martinez in at the deep end against Napoli and ask the World Cup winner to save Inter’s flagging hopes of Serie A glory.
Argentina striker Martinez only arrived back in Italy at the end of last week, having played a part in his national team’s Qatar 2022 triumph and subsequent celebrations.
His tournament performances left a little to be desired, but Martinez still emerged with a winner’s medal, and Inter head coach Inzaghi believes he has plenty to offer the Nerazzurri.
Inter sit fifth in Serie A after 15 rounds of games, already 11 points behind undefeated leaders Napoli ahead of Wednesday’s clash at San Siro.
Inter have won their last four home Serie A matches against Napoli, after victories in just two of the previous seven, and they urgently need to stretch that strong run to shuffle back into the title picture.
“After a long time, I have four forwards available,” Inzaghi told a press conference on Tuesday.
“I’ve never had them in the year that just ended. Lautaro arrived four days ago but trained well, I saw [Angel] Correa better. [Edin] Dzeko and [Romelu] Lukaku had more chances to train with the team, my hope is to be able to have them throughout this tour de force.
“For tomorrow I still have to make evaluations.”
Inzaghi, a former striker himself, said there were still “some uncertainties” over who would start in Inter’s attack against a team he rates as the continent’s best.
Napoli have won their last 11 Serie A matches, with no team having bettered that since Juventus strung 12 together in a row from December 2017 to March 2018.
Martinez has a strong track record against the Naples giants, having scored four goals against them in Serie A, including the third Inter goal in a 3-2 win in this fixture last season. He has only hit more against Salernitana (five) and Cagliari (eight), and three of those four goals have come at San Siro.
He has seven goals in the league already this season.
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Inter will be hoping the seven-week break for the World Cup means Napoli are knocked out of their stride, allowing Inzaghi’s team to make a whirlwind start to the year.
“We can’t wait to start again, we want to take to the field,,” Inzaghi said. “Last year it was an exciting match that gave us great impetus.
“It’s a very important match where the tension will probably be more on our side but the beauty of football is being able to play matches like this.
“There are 23 games left to go so there are lots of points up for grabs and Inter like others who are chasing have the desire to shorten the lead on what is currently the best team in Europe.”
Inzaghi brushed off questioning about Milan Skriniar’s future, with the Inter defender now in the final six months of his contract.
“He’s an extraordinary boy who gives everything on the pitch,” Inzaghi said. “Apart from him, there are several players whose contracts are about to expire, but I know there is a strong club that is always by my side and working for the best in all situations.”