Inter’s pre-season training is getting started again and now it’s time to start thinking about the squad for the coming campaign. There are bound to be more additions to the squad before the Serie A season starts, but for now I want to take at look at some of the players that will be eager to impress this season and will be worth keeping an extra eye out for.
(There won’t be a goalkeeper option here since that position is pretty constant, but if I was forced to pick somebody it would have to be Francesco Bardi on loan at Frosinone for reasons you can read here.)
Defense: Jeison Murillo
Murillo arrived at the San Siro with hopeful expectations and exceeded those expectations in the first half of the season. His partnership with Miranda was exceptional and formed the bedrock of a terrifyingly solid defense. His form dropped off in the second half of the season and he had some discipline issues so this season it will be interesting to see which Murillo shows up. The 24 year old has the potential to become one of the best defenders in the world and if he continues the upward trajectory shown in the beginning of his time with Inter then Serie A attackers will soon fear the sight of him like in the days of Lucio, Ivan Cordoba, and Walter Samuel. One can only hope that rumors of him leaving to be replaced by Ezequiel Garay will turn out to be nothing, and today he downplayed any chances that he will be leaving the club.
Midfield: Ever Banega
With everything settled besides an official announcement, Ever Banega will be joining an Inter side that has been crying out for midfield creativity and sees him as the answer. Banega played a crucial role both in Sevilla’s Europa League triumph and Argentina’s Copa America run and will be expected to quickly make a similar impact for the Nerazzurri. It is unclear whether the 28 year old will be played as a trequartista behind Mauro Icardi in a 4231 formation or in a deeper midfield role in a 433, but in either role Banega will be looked at to connect the midfield with the forwards and to provide Icardi and the other attackers with the service they craved this past season.
(Runner-up: Geoffrey Kondogbia - The French midfielder had an underwhelming first season marked with flashes of his potential. His power driving forward can be useful to the team but he needs to get a better tactical understanding of his positioning and when to make runs. He is only 23 so he has time to up his game, but Banega’s arrival means there could be fewer available midfield positions. This is the season for him to consistently show his worth.)
Some Inter fans were unhappy that the club decided to sign Eder instead of purchasing a creative midfielder (aka Banega) and their anger was seemingly justified when the Italian striker went from scoring 12 goals in 19 Serie A appearances for Sampdoria to 1 goal in 14 appearances with Inter. There were some doubts to if he had an Inter future but a strong showing with the Azzurri at Euro 2016 has pretty much ensured that the 29 year old will have a chance this season to prove himself to Mancini and the Inter supporters. Hopefully having a pre-season to gel with his teammates and get used to Mancini’s tactics will allow Eder to gain the form needed to be successful at this club.
(Runner-up: Stevan Jovetic - Similar to Eder, Jovetic also had a disappointing introduction to Inter. 6 goals in 27 Serie A appearances was not what Roberto Mancini had expected from the Montenegrin striker plus a sometimes less-than-stellar attitude made it likely that the 26 year old would depart this summer. Rumors of his departure have died down recently and he showed up to pre-season training yesterday all smiles and thumbs up. In the past he expressed a desire to stay at Inter and he knows that next season he will have to perform at a much higher level than what he showed this past season. For that to happen though, he will need to convince the club to take a chance on him again.)