Their presence are felt behind Onana’s saves, Marotta’s, Inzaghi’s, Zhang’s statements, Barella’s throws and Lautaro’s loud goals. They are the “silent” leaders. They are on every team and they always make the difference on their team. They don’t like making proclamations in front of microphones or on social media. If they talk, they talk at the right time. If they don’t talk, then it’s because they like to let the pitch do the talking.
If you search the dictionary for the exact definition of a silent leader, you will surely find Matteo Darmian’s name somewhere. Yesterday against Porto he had to replace the injured Skriniar in the three-man defence, picking up a yellow card in the first half due to a misplaced pass from Barella. Nothing to worry about with Darmian around. He was then forced off the field from muscle cramps in the second half after giving everything – every last drop of energy once again being among the best of the match. You can deploy him arm in arm in a three-man defense or as the right-back in midfield, it makes no difference to him. In the league, he got the better of Kvaratskhelia first and then of Leao in the derby. He speaks little, except on the pitch he makes himself heard.
The second silent leader of this Inter team is Acerbi. Do you remember the criticisms after his arrival in the summer as he was so desired by Inzaghi? He preferred to fly over the noise, letting only the field speak in this case too. In a few weeks time, he “stole” De Vrij’s place in the back three. Like Matteo, Francesco Acerbi has almost always been one of the best on the pitch this season. You can count the black marks in his play with one hand. He took the ball from Osimhen, Giroud and in the 200 minutes against Porto, he practically took everything he could take from all the round trips up and down the pitch. A warranty.
The third “silent” leader is Calhanoglu. He has been making his voice heard lately even off the pitch on social media, to remove some nagging pebbles from his shoe in the form of his last team, Milan. For a long time he’s remained silent, despite the constant attacks from his former fans and also from his former teammates. At Inter, it was love at first sight. Easy to admire with two feet like his, but what made Nerazzurri supporters fall in love was his tenacity and grit in the middle of the pitch. It was a sumptuous performance that rewarded with the title of Man of the Match.
The fourth silent leader is Henrikh Mkhitaryan. We have lost count of all the consecutive games he started for Inzaghi. Nerazzurri fans consider this as “forcing” him into the lineup, but the Armenian proves that at the age of 34 he can still run like a train. His play has been precious in the interdiction phase and fundamental in the defensive transitions. Inzaghi can’t help but start him and he keeps proving himself in every game. He also doesn’t say much, but he prefers his talking gets done through his performances and the big goals that have given Inter some big points in the league and in Europe.
The fifth, and last, but not least silent leader is Danilo D’Ambrosio. Entering the fiery finale at Do Dragao, he literally missed no ball coming his way, no play, no reading, thereby giving Inter some pure oxygen in the precious last seconds. After June, his future could be far from Milan. Will it go this way? At some point, it will happen, yet there is certainty that he will be missed a lot – on and off the field.