Don’t look back in anger: Dzeko and Correa show promising signs in post-Lukaku era

Although it is still early in the season, Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa are proving that there is life at Inter after Romelu Lukaku’s sale, offering Simone Inzaghi even more options, writes Richard Hall.

It will not be until the end of the campaign until Inter will be able to judge if they have missed the dynamic presence of Romelu Lukaku but the early signs are promising.

Beppe Marotta can take credit for his dealings in the summer window, imposed as they may have been. However, they are now looking like shrewd purchases. Many who follow the Nerazzurri were admittedly not overwhelmed when Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa arrived in Milan from the Eternal City, yet as the first games of the season have shown, they are hungry and capable.

Matteo Darmian spoke this week about Lukaku’s departure and Dzeko’s arrival: “Dzeko and Lukaku are different players, but they are both very strong. I am sure Edin will help us this season by scoring many goals.” This mirrored what many fans are thinking. There is no denying that the Belgian is not a huge loss. It is not ‘Romelu who?’ just yet but the new arrivals have already shown that against Genoa and Verona, that the forward line is still lethal.

Dzeko has registered his first goal and come up with an assist, whilst Correa added two goals in a stunning debut against Verona where he came off the bench and netted twice. Inter have scored seven times in their opening two games and have as yet not missed Lukaku.

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Perhaps the Nerazzurri faithful will be willing the replacements to succeed even more after the Belgian striker’s comments this week. The Chelsea forward said this week that “when Chelsea’s third offer arrived I went to Inzaghi to find a deal.” He then elaborated “After training, I went to [Simone] Inzaghi’s office. I did not want to ruin the atmosphere because I was no longer with my head in Milan. So I asked him: please find an agreement.”

This simply fuelled the fire in the fan base as many already brand him a traitor despite him helping them to the Scudetto last campaign. Perhaps now the new arrivals blistering start can give them optimism and the focus can be a positive one rather than looking back at the past.

There is still a long way to go before Dzeko or Correa can be seen as successes or failures but it is not just their individual performances that have given new hope, it is the way that they have given Inter a new plan B. Last season, Antonio Conte was criticised early on for only having one way to play.

This was enough to see them bring home the Scudetto as often they simply steamrollered lesser opposition. Against the more possession-based and equal opposition, they often allowed them to have the ball before counter-attacking at breakneck speed but this approach did not work in Europe as against more cultured opposition.

What has been obvious in the opening two games is how integral Dzeko is for Simone Inzaghi. It allows the Nerazzurri to be more direct, they are using his aerial presence as a central point to cause havoc in the opposition box. Many times balls were aimed at the Bosnian, whether from balls from deep, crosses or long throw-ins.

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Never was this more evident than the game against Verona. Here, Inter were behind and it was Dzeko’s flick-on that found Martinez for the equaliser. This was a constant threat with Perisic using long throws to find him on multiple occasions. Inter are certainly not changing to this style of play but it gives them an option when they are in trouble.

The jury is still out however and questions still need to be answered. Will Inter still be able to perform in big games in the same manner? Will Dzeko replace the number of goals Romelu provided? Will Correa be able to link up with Lautaro as is expected and will he really provide goals?

He has never scored my than nine in a domestic season and few with his head, that is why two goals in 16 minutes (one a delightful header) seems to perhaps offer false hope.

It does seem as though the team is stepping up as a collective with the goals and this can also be a successful alternative. Lukaku may have scored a large proportion of the Nerazzurri tally last campaign but perhaps now this can be split amongst the group. When Gonzalo Higuaín left Napoli, Maurizio Sarri tasked his squad to show a more utilitarian approach and it worked as they all took responsibility for the offensive work. Perhaps looking for Dzeko and/or Correa to fill the void is not the answer, although the ruthless start they have had suggests otherwise.