Premier League clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs look set to rival one another for the signing of Milan Skriniar in January. The Center Back has been linked with an exit from Inter Milan for a number of months. That was after a major drop in both playing time, and form last season.
Lack of Opportunity under Conte
After an exceptional 2018/2019 season, Skriniar had quite a poor season last year. A big reason for this was the arrival of Antonio Conte to Inter Milan. The Italian is a world-class manager and has always lined up his teams with a back three.
Before Conte, Inter lined up in more of a flat back four, where he partnered with Stefan De Vrij. Just a few months into this season, it was clear that Skriniar was not capable of playing in this system.
In a back three, a wide center back must be able to cover distance and move laterally. These are two things that the Slovak struggled with and has seen him freeze out. Moving to either of these two Premier League teams would be a huge help for him, as both operate in a back 4.
Fitting into Liverpool and Tottenham
In the short term, Skriniar would be a vital signing for Liverpool. Their best defender, Virgil Van Dijk, may be out for the season with an ACL injury. In addition to this, Joel Matip and Fabinho have both been struggling with injury problems recently. The signing would allow Liverpool to move Fabinho back to his natural holding midfield position. Either Matip or Joe Gomez would partner the Slovak international at the back for the remainder of the season. Looking beyond this season, a partnership of Skriniar and Van Dijk would easily be the best center-back pairing in the world. The aerial prowess and composure on both players’ ball would be a nightmare for opposition attacks to come up against.
Tottenham was the club linked with Skriniar throughout the Summer transfer window. They currently have five first-team center backs, with Joe Rodon joining the Lily Whites on deadline day. However, Rodon, nor Davidson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Toby Alderwireld, and Japhet Tanganga, can be deemed world-class. A defender like Skriniar could take Spurs to the next level and potentially win their first trophy since 2008. Given their big-spending elsewhere on the pitch over the summer, they would most likely have to offload either Sanchez or Alderwireld. Given Sanchez’s bad recent form, it would most likely be the Colombian that departs.