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Why Serie A will be Vidić's second youth
In a slower and more tactical league, the 32-years-old Serb defender won't need to count on speed and pace as he was used to do in the Premier League. Inter's three men defense fits perfectly to his skills
by Jamie Wilkins
For those of you that have been living under a footballing rock for the best part of ten years, Nemanja Vidić is a 32-year old Serbian defender, who currently plays for Manchester United, having captained them since the start of the 2010/11 season.

 

He has also played for the Serbian national team from 2002 to 2011, getting a reputation for incredible defensive prowess by becoming one of the ‘Famous Four’ Serbian defenders that only once conceded at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. In terms of honours, Nemanja has a career laced with them – especially in his title-winning years at Manchester United. In his first full season as a Red, he won the Premier League whilst also getting in the PFA Premier League and ESM Teams of the Year. Through the next few years he developed a phenomenal partnership with Rio Ferdinand, glory and trophies following them on their journey.

 

Most notably in the 2008/09 season, where he helped United lift their third title in 3 years. He also lifted the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League and narrowly missed out in retaining it, following a 2-0 loss to Barcelona. In that 2008/09 season, he also won the Football League Cup, the FA Community Shield, the FIFA Club World Cup and Many individual honours including January 2009’s Premier League Player of the month, Premier League Player of the Season and got into the FIFA FIFPro World XI.

 

But with his halcyon days seemingly behind him, and Manchester United’s form dipping greatly since Fergie’s departure in the summer, it seems like a good time to move on for the Serb. He signed a new contract, now with Inter, just a few days ago on March 5th and will join them on June 1st.

 

What does he offer to Internazionale? Judging by the size of him, it’s easy to tell that he is not at all lacking in physical ability. His towering physique helped him nudge strikers off the ball with ease and made him a lethal asset in set pieces, where he scored 15 goals so far in his time at United. Not only is his physique a brilliant aspect, but he also had a great brain on him too. He can read tackles and through balls like a robot and execute interceptions and blocks with incredible precision.

 

Even in his later years, he can still replicate the form he showed in his best years, averaging 4 combined blocks, tackles and interceptions per game this season. He has also shown strong leadership skills since becoming Man Utd captain in 2010, deputising them to two titles in 2011 and 2013, and should he be elected as captain at Inter, would be a great man to lead the team from the back.

 

Will he still be as effective in Serie A? Compared to the intense, all-action affairs we see week-in, week-out in the Premier League, Serie A is a slower league with much more focus on intelligent play, as opposed to physical speed and ability. This could play right into Nemanja’s hands. As he gets older, he will lose most of his current speed and will have to rely on his reading of the game as well as his communication and organisation, to guide him in matches. Inter currently play a 3-5-2 formation which can at times leave the back line exposed when the wing-backs surge forward.

 

This will become a test of Vidić‘s mental composure and ability to organise the defence, as he will need it to keep its shape to prevent the structure of it being exploited too often. This could see him dropping deeper than his other two centre-backs, allowing either of them to step up in an attempt to win the ball, or go wide should the threat come from the flanks. In such a sweeper-position, which name in Italy is "libero", Vidić would then be in perfect position to challenge for the ball should it go past the first wave of defence and intercept any balls through – much similar to the new role John Terry has been employed in at Chelsea, under the returning manager Jose Mourinho.

 

Although he is a good fit for the league, showing unquestionable mental and technical defensive ability, being unaffected by the lack of speed so far, age will take its toll on the Serb – and he only has a few more years left in him before he starts to come to a halt.

 

In short, yes: he will be effective in Serie A. He still has the physique to mental strength to cope with the lesser intensity of the league and its focus on reading of the game and organisation. Is he what Inter should be looking for? For now, he could offer a solution to Inter’s defensive woes and bring some discipline and order to a side that has not looked its best in a few years. However, he would only be there for the short term, due to his age, and Inter should still be looking towards youth and the talent within their own squad for any long term solutions.

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