The role of the Trequartista, number 10 or even second striker has changed in recent years. Less time on the ball, more speed and the physical advancement in the game rendered many a plodding genius out of a job. The man who took a touch, summed up the situation and then produced a moment of magic, fell into history in the early 1990s, but there have been exceptions. Dennis Bergkamp was perhaps the best embodiment, although they are few and far between. Sampdoria’s Patrik Schick may just fill that role and, like the ‘Iceman’, he may also be heading to Inter.
It could have been quite different. Football has a funny way of throwing up obstacles and Schick seems to be learning how to hurdle. The boy from Sparta Prague was picked up by Sampdoria for €4m at the start of the season, despite hardly even featuring for the Czech outfit. He was homesick and seemingly looked like he couldn’t get a game for his new club either, but when he did make that first impact, he didn’t look back.
In 14 starts and 18 substitute appearances he scored 11 goals and provided five assists. These were not just any goals, as he proved he could score in big games, such as on his debut against Juventus, and that he could score the sublime too.
The Bergkamp comparisons began after his delectable goal against Crotone was arguably more impressive than the Dutchman’s against Newcastle many moons ago. Throughout the campaign many teams started to take note of the 21-year-old’s ability and fellow Czech Pavel Nedved made the comparison with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The ‘Old Lady’ followed Nedved’s advice and decided to bid €30m for the boy who was by now making a swift rise to stardom. Here came one of the biggest obstacles, as his medical revealed a cardiac irregularity. This was terrible news indeed, but after extensive tests he was eventually cleared as fit and healthy by club doctor Amedeo Baldari. His move to Juventus was off, but now the Nerazzurri stepped in.
The Czech forward could be exactly what Inter need. A lack of creativity has been a criticism for many seasons now. Ever Banega was the latest man to fail to produce, but with Luciano Spalletti’s faster and more direct approach, the thought of Schick hovering left and right of Mauro Icardi begs the question: could he be the perfect wingman for him?
There is always caution needed when talking of a player’s potential at a club before he has even signed, never mind started training with them. Look at Bergkamp himself, a majestic talent strangled by the rigid tactics of Serie A at the time, he was as guilty for not adapting too. Schick, after a season under his belt already, has adapted to the league and for a mid-table (no disrespect Sampdoria) club, he has shown his pace, calmness, and the glorious finesse of that rather lethal left foot.
What he could bring to Inter is innovation and an ability to create when things get static. Icardi has performed miracles in recent years with minimal support, but the addition of the young Czech could provide an extra supply route and also alleviate the pressure on Ivan Perisic.
It should also be made clear that Schick has an incredible work rate that sees him track back and do the more robust part of the game with vigour. He is no shrinking violet and could provide the ethic that Spalletti will demand from his players this term.
Alvaro Recoba is just one of the many divine left-footers who formed a love affair with the Curva. Schick, first and foremost, will be happy with this health, but now the obstacles have been removed and he can look to the future. What this holds is still unclear, but it could soon be in the black and blue of Inter.