It’s been a summer of change like no other for Internazionale. There has been a change of ownership, with the Suning Group from China purchasing a controlling stake in the club. Then there was a somewhat unexpected change of manager, with Roberto Mancini parting ways with the Nerazzurri less than three weeks before the start of the season, and former Ajax coach Frank de Boer taking his place.
And in addition to the changes of leadership, there has also been a raft of new players arriving at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, not least because of the cash injection from the aforementioned take over.
The timing of the deals may not have been perfect – several players arrived after the Serie A season had already begun – and the squad still has a hole or two overall. But the improvements Inter have made via the transfer market this season stand to thrust the Milanese giants back up into the upper echelons of Italian football.
Inter have made as many as nine first team additions this summer, and here’s the pick of the bunch.
Argentinian playmaker Éver Banega has been signed from Sevilla on a Bosman free transfer, in what could prove to be one of the finest pieces of business completed on the Continent this summer.
The 28-year-old was outstanding in Sevilla’s run to a third straight UEFA Europa League title, scoring nine goals and registering five assists in all competitions for the Andalusian club last season.
In the previous Serie A campaign, Inter were often lining up with an incredibly negative midfield trio of Felipe Melo, Gary Medel and Geoffrey Kondogbia; Banega has come in to add finesse and creativity in the middle of the park.
If de Boer can strike the right balance by covering the spaces in behind Benega, while providing pace and willing runners in forward areas, Inter will reap the benefits of having one of the most skilled and creative midfielders in Europe in their side.
Antonio Candreva was earmarked as a transfer target early in the window by Inter, and the Nerazzurri managed to fend off rival interest from Chelsea to sign the Italian international winger for €25 million.
In his four seasons with Lazio, Candreva scored 41 goals from 150 Serie A appearances. And despite the Biancocelesti’s inability to find a consistent level of form last season, Candreva still managed to rack up 12 goals while also registering five assists.
The Rome-born player is 29 years old now, so Inter will be expecting him to come straight into the team and have an immediate impact – especially considering the money laid out for the former Udinese man.
But the 40-cap Azzurri winger will back himself to add a level of dynamism to the right side of Inter’s attack, and his impeccable delivery from wide areas will prove to be a valuable source of goal-scoring opportunities for captain and star striker Mauro Icardi.
Brazilian prodigy Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa had a host of elite European clubs lining up to sign him from Santos this summer, but it was Inter who won the race for his signature.
Barbosa has been making waves in Brazil since his 2013 debut. The youngster earned the nickname “Gabigol” because of his coolness and finesse in front of goal, belying his tender years and relative inexperience.
An impressive tally of 56 goals from 153 appearances for Santos – all while still in his teens – makes it easy to see why so many top clubs wanted to sign the youngster.
And he didn’t come cheap: in order to beat the likes of Juventus, Atlético Madrid and Manchester United to sign the Brazilian, Inter had to pay a fee in the region of €30 million, with Barbosa joining the Serie A giants on his twentieth birthday.
Barbosa is unlikely to unseat Icardi as Inter’s primary marksman this season – not least because the former Barcelona and Sampdoria man has just signed a bumper new contract – but his ability to play on the right of the front three, as well as centrally, will see the four-cap Brazil international get plenty of game time.
With a transfer fee in the region of €45 million, 23-year-old Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario became Inter’s second most expensive purchase ever – behind only the world record signing of Christian Vieri from Lazio in 1999.
Joao Mario was impressive for Portugal during their historic UEFA European Championship triumph in France this summer, acting as the main creative force in Fernando Santos’s midfield.
Despite only having three full seasons of senior football under his belt, Joao Mario has earned rave reviews for his performances with Sporting Clube de Portugal. Capable of playing wide on the right or centrally as a number 10, the 23-year-old is fast, athletic and a skilled dribbler with an eye for a defence-splitting pass.
With the hefty price tag, Inter fans will be expecting big things from Joao Mario, and if the Porto-born midfielder can hit the ground running in Milan, he’ll be a major factor in the Nerazzurri’s push for Champions League qualification.
With the acquisitions they have made, Frank de Boer has somewhat of a selection dilemma on his hands, as several top quality players will not make his starting eleven.
But if he sticks with the 4-3-3 utilised in the club’s recent 1-1 draw with Palermo (although a 4-2-3-1 could perhaps better accommodate Joao Mario), Inter fans can expect to see a line-up of Samir Handanovic; Danilo D’Ambrosio, Jeison Murillo, Miranda, Davide Santon; Éver Banega, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Joao Mario; Antonio Candreva, Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic – a side capable of qualifying for the Champions League, and maybe even contesting lo Scudetto.
About the author – Ryan Baldi
Ryan is a Midlands based freelance sports writer specialising in European football. He has been fascinated with the continental game ever since he was presented with his first football kit at the ge of 7 years old whilst on holiday in Spain – a Barcelona shirt with ‘Romario 10’ printed on the back. A contributor to numerous footballing websites, Ryan has also covered martial arts for local and national print publications.