By Max De Luca
There has been a glaring hole in central defence since the Argentine went down with an Achilles injury in the first week of January. The Nerazzurri have conceded three or more goals twice in their last six encounters without Samuel.
Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus haven’t looked up to the job, with the Italian international a favourite scapegoat for fans and journalists alike. While I’m not ready to write off Ranocchia just yet it’s getting harder and harder each week to defend him.
Inter are a clearly different side without Samuel and it’s always been that way too. The no-nonsense defender was one of the unsung heroes during the Champions League winning campaign in 2009-10 after a series of underwhelming performances from the Nerazzurri in prior years.
Inter crashed out to Valencia in 2006-07 and Liverpool a year later, with the wily veteran missing both ties. He has only played 13 Serie A games this season and a healthy Samuel is vital to the squad if they hope to reach Europe’s most prestigious club tournament once more.