Stefan de Vrij is going through an eventful year at Internazionale. The Dutch stopper is still a fixed value with the Italian champion, but also struggles with injuries, sometimes looks less stable, may leave next summer and has to deal with a multimillion-dollar case that plays in the background. VoetbalPrimeur dives into the situation of De Vrij.
Since De Vrij went to Inter in 2018, the defender has experienced beautiful things: he gained experience in the Champions League, became the best defender in Italy in 2020, won the first Scudetto with Inter in eleven years and became one of the stars of Orange at the European Championship. This season, however, it is less easy for De Vrij: the South Hollander made a mistake in several major matches and could count on criticism from the Italian press for the first time in a long time.
Inter-watcher Luca Taidelli of La Gazzetta dello Sport agrees that things are not going so well for De Vrij. “This season he is not at the same level as in the years before. He no longer has the appearance of a wall. Between October and December De Vrij reached his old level for a while, but in the new year he has problems again. Weird individual mistakes. I don’t know why that is, it could be concentration. At the moment I think De Ligt is better.”
Lawsuit and new play style
Inter’s new playing style may be one of the reasons that De Vrij is underperforming this season. I Nerazzurri still play in a 3-5-2 formation, but under Antonio Conte the team was always very compact on the field. Trainer Simone Inzaghi is trying to make Inter an attacking and attractive team. As a result, De Vrij, like fellow defenders Alessandro Bastoni and Milan Skriniar, suddenly has to deal with large spaces in his back. De Vrij, Bastoni and Skriniar are all three not the fastest defenders, which regularly causes problems.
De Vrij embraces Bastoni after the won Supercoppa final against Juventus
In addition, the lawsuit between De Vrij and his old management SEG plays in the background. The Orange international demands millions from SEG, due to unlawful acts surrounding his switch to Inter. De Vrij has now been in court, but is still waiting for the verdict. That doesn’t exactly help if you have to focus on your own form. However, according to Taidelli, the case is not a big topic of conversation in Italy. “We have heard about it here. It is just not very big news in Italy. It will only become news here if Inter is more involved.”
Last Inter months for De Vrij?
There is even a good chance that De Vrij is in his final months as an Inter player. The 55-time international, who is now thirty years old, has a contract until mid-2023 in Milan. De Vrij has not yet discussed an extension with his employer. That also has to do with Inter’s financial situation. In theory, there are two options for De Vrij in the coming summer: sign up or leave. Normally, Inter does not let players walk out the door on a free transfer. However, players like Skriniar also have a contract until mid-2023 and it seems that they can count on a contract extension earlier than De Vrij.
Inter will also probably be forced to sell players next summer if it wants to make purchases. The Italian champion is still in the hands of the Chinese Suning Holdings, which is struggling with significant financial deficits due to the corona pandemic and is unable to invest in the club. From an accounting point of view, it can be very interesting for Inter to sell De Vrij: the experienced defender came over from SS Lazio for free in 2018, so that Inter can also fully record the transfer fee it receives for De Vrij as a profit in the accounts. This is not possible with players for whom a sum of money has been paid.
Inter picked up De Vrij for free, making a sale economically advantageous
There are therefore several signals that point to a summer transfer from De Vrij. However, it is not that far yet. It is also not a must for Inter to get rid of the Dutchman: the Italians first focus on the settlement of the current season and defending the league title.
For De Vrij, the focus must now also be on the short term: he is recovering from a calf injury, which he sustained while visiting Liverpool. For that reason, the man from Ouderkerk aan den IJssel also misses the practice matches with the Orange. At Inter, however, they are hopeful that De Vrij will be fit again after the break, when they visit Juventus’ Allianz Stadium. In a few months more will undoubtedly become clear about the future of De Vrij.
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