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Friday January 8 2021
What has happened to Vidal?

Richard Hall analyses Arturo Vidal’s performances and wonders whether he only needs time to recover his best or if his great engine is finally broken.

"No man is ever old enough to know better." —Holbrook Jackson. For Arturo Vidal, this seems to have been his motto since arriving at Inter, as his poor discipline and rash judgment, has hindered rather than help Antonio Conte’s team.

In the empty chasm that is San Siro, the coach has bellowed expletives at the Chilean midfielder, although he does continue to trust him. Is it because Conte believes he is still capable of his best? The Italian media are split, some blaming a lack of pre-season and others simply admitting that it looks like he has had his day. So, which is it?

It was all so different back at Bayern Munich. Back in 2014, Vidal said of himself: "Many try to imitate my style, but I want to say one thing, I'm the best defensive midfielder in the world. No one defends as well as me and scores so many goals."

He was probably right at the time. He certainly has been more than just the warrior that many perceive him as. His ability to break up play in the middle of the pitch was one of his best assets and he has always been physical, although getting booked is nothing new as he has a long history of collecting cards.

Perhaps one appealing qualities for both Bayern and Barcelona was that he was always extremely dangerous when going forward. His energy and determination allowed him to maraud up and down the pitch going from box to box, linking the defence and attack as he did so.

In 2016-17, after Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben, he was Bayern’s next top scorer, netting in all four competitions. These goals were often important ones also, helping his team take a lead or being the decisive late strike.

In 2019-20 (not that long ago) he was still doing this for Barcelona. His goals in in this season made him the fourth highest scorer at the club behind Leo Messi (27), Luis Suárez (18) and Antoine Griezmann (15).

Perhaps, the age of Vidal and the fact that it coincided with Inter ending their pursuit of Sandro Tonali, meant that the move was met by many with criticism.

Conte had expressed that he wanted leaders who could "win now" and when Messi was lamenting about how much Vidal's presence has been missed in the dressing room, you many understand why the coach thought he was purchasing something quite different.

Perhaps, Antonio envisaged what he had seen at Barcelona? Only back in July, was the club lauding his effectiveness.

Instead, what fans of the Nerazzurri have been treated to is similar to an Aston Martin with the engine of a lawn mower.

The brakes do not seem to work either as he has been diving into tackles, receiving five yellow cards and one red within 13 starts and five substitute appearances in all competitions.

He gave away the penalty against Crotone that saw the coach berate him from the sidelines and he has been little use in the offensive third. Let us be clear, he is not Inter’s only problem but he seems to represent or somehow define the failures of Conte’s reign.

So what has happened? Since 2017-18, there has been a decline in his performances, but arguably his best season since was the 2019/20 one in Spain.

Whilst there was talk of a rift between Vidal and Ronald Koeman, there was no indication his departure was due to ability, more personality and style. Therefore, the man who won eight league titles in a row in three different countries between 2012 and 2019 turned up in Milan and has failed to impress so far.

Gazzetta dello Sport claimed after Inter’s 6-2 win over Crotone, that Vidal’s poor form was down to a lack of pre-season and that he only turned up in Milan a week before the start of the campaign.

They went so far as to say that he could be like a new signing with some rest. The same paper also reviewed his performance against Sampdoria by saying “A few minutes, a lot of uselessness". So which is it?

Conte certainly seems to have faith in him and that is his prerogative, even if the Chile international was rested against Sampdoria in Inter's first Serie A defeat in the last 12 games on Wednesday. His other ‘older guard’ signings have been mixed, Matteo Darmian has performed well at 31 but Aleksandar Kolarov has been an unmitigated disaster.

You can accept the fouls from Vidal when he is offering the defensive work, the energy and the goals but as of yet, there has only been confusion that could be down to a lack of fitness.

Is Vidal simply in need of rest and preparation? Or, alternatively, are his days numbered and that great engine is finally broken?

@RichHall80

Have your say...
it's so unlike Inter Milan to mismanage talent
on the 11th January, 2021 at 3:58pm
I have expected this since his transfer rumor.

Reason: old.
on the 9th January, 2021 at 11:29am
With last seasons stats it shows his game wasn't on the decline. I think at his age he need to play every other or only 60-70 min top. Also he needs to get into a rhythm with the other players. If he plays like he should nobody will be complaining. A few games starting on the bench never hurt anyone.
on the 8th January, 2021 at 9:59pm
Why Conte is obsessed with over-the-hill has-beens is quite baffling.

Vidal's legs were gone a while back, yet here we have a "top" Serie A side buying him and paying him huge wages to do little.

He was brilliant in his second-last season at Juve, a real driving force. But as Juulesy said, was a disaster waiting to happen in the 2015 CL final. He could have easily been sent off early on in that game with his crazy mentality.
on the 8th January, 2021 at 9:52pm
Sadly he was never the same after his 2014 knee injury. His versatility made him one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world, but when his knee went he lost a huge part of what made him so valuable -- tackling and the ability to win the ball high up the pitch. Pre-2014 Vidal was an absolute beast of a player. Even though he is an Inter player, it's still sad to see his decline. Will always have a soft-spot for every single squad member of the 2011/2012 Invincibles.
on the 8th January, 2021 at 8:39pm
Vidal is just another mercenary, nothing else. He is not playing from his soul and obviously does not care about Conte. They all seem like a bunch of impotent folks at best, trojan horses at worst. The issue is that club went to support Conte and his stupid decision instead of signing Tonali, just because Conte manipulates Steven Zhang. Conte should mind his own business, like scoring against Shaktior and beating Sampdoria... pathetic, predictable and overpayed clown.
on the 8th January, 2021 at 8:33pm
His best days are behind him so that's why Barca was happy to have him leave for free ! he needs to spend more time on the treadmill and bike and less time with a beer in his hands if he wants to offer something to this squad. PS - after acquiring Felipe Melo and seeing what he did at inter it didn't take a genius to know that Vidal would flop at Inter.
on the 8th January, 2021 at 8:18pm
It’s quite simple. Just like Marotta and Conte (Judas), he should NEVER have gone to Inter. Inter attempting to re-create Juve’s 2011 combination is, quite frankly, pathetic. It’s so blatantly pathetically obvious what they are trying to do. Gents, it’s 11 years later.......find your own original formula, for goodness sake...... As a committed juventino, my worst wishes go to Inter, Marotta, Vidal and Conte (most of all....Judas...)
on the 8th January, 2021 at 7:46pm
He's always been a liability esp during his final season at Juve. The last straw for me was that CL final where his obnoxious attitude contributed to our downfall. I was glad to see the back of him. A friend of mine who is a Barca fan said Vidal was the most un-Barca like player ever. He could still evolve his game to adapt to his fitness but needs to do some serious work on his mental aspect of the game if he believes he can yet make a significant contribution to the Inter cause.
on the 8th January, 2021 at 7:23pm
why you give so much importance to vidal

why not give us a the rebirth of milan skriniar for example ?
on the 8th January, 2021 at 7:09pm

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