It’s the most wonderful time of the year: The closing of the summer transfer window. In our lifetimes, we’ve seen the summer transfer window grow from a quiet off-season period for clubs to do private dealings into its own self-contained spectacle, supporting equal numbers of actual journalists, credulous gossip-mongers, armchair accountants, and rando dudes flat-out making shit up, all of whom seem to regard the actual playing of football matches as a dull downtime between the fast-paced world of contract negotiations, cryptic Instagram captions, and conference calls. But for a few weeks at least, they now must fall silent, as we get down the real business of the season. (Of course, as I say that, I fully expect to see the Goal.com headline: "Tottenham/City/Juve/Marseilles/United/Schalke/Young Boys Transfer Target Giroud Scores for France!")
It won’t be until the end of the season, if then, that we truly know which of our transfer moves were successful ones, but in the meantime, here are my entirely subjective grades.
Keeping Mauro Icardi – B+
Yeah, I know what you’re all gonna say. Icardi’s agent/wife pulled a transparent (and incredibly obnoxious) public shakedown attempt over the summer, and by agreeing to give him an improved contract, we fell for it. We also passed up the opportunity to squeeze 60 million out of Napoli for the player, an amount that his performances to date don’t necessarily justify. All the same, if we had lost both our coach and our captain/key goal-scorer in the month before the start of the season, we might as well have just written this year off. Whatever his limitations as a player and a man may be, Mauro Icardi remains an absolutely essential element of this team, and we did what we had to do to avoid disturbing that.
Signing Ever Banega – A+
Pretty much a perfect transfer move. This team was badly lacking a creative playmaker, a regista, and a defensively-sound midfielder who can not only win the ball, but also do something useful with it after he does. In Banega, we got all three of those attributes. He’s in the prime of his career, and it didn’t cost us a cent to sign him. I hope Ausilio opened up a very expensive bottle of Champagne after getting this one on paper – he deserved it.
Signing Joao Mario – B+
I kept going back and forth between B+ and A- on this one. On the one hand, our midfield has been a hive of dysfunction and frustration ever since we lost Thiago Motta and Esteban Cambiasso, and all signs point to Joao Mario as a man who can turn this around. On the other hand, at 45 million, I can’t help but feel we were taken for a bit of a ride. Or maybe this is just Inter finally waking up to the realities of the modern transfer market? If Andre Gomes is worth 50 million and Paul Pogba is worth 250 billion or whatever the hell United paid for him, I guess 45 million for a Euro-winning 23-year-old who can play basically anywhere on the pitch is hardly unreasonable.
Signing Gabriel Barbosa – A-
The only thing worse than his official "Gabigol" nickname is his unofficial one: "the next Neymar." Not only is he not the next Neymar, and also not the first Brazilian starlet to be called the next Neymar, he’s not even the first Brazilian starlet with the first name Gabriel born in 1996-97 who moved to Europe in summer of 2016 to be called the next Neymar. But that aside, G.B. is one of the brightest shining stars of Brazil’s youngest generation, and Inter managed to snag him from right under the noses of clubs like Juve and Barcelona. It’ll take him some time to get acclimated to a very different league than he’s used to, but the sky could be the limit with this guy, and it’s wonderful to see Inter throwing its weight around for top-class young talent. (Docked half a grade for the extra money we paid to transfer him in September, rather than January, which seems pointless to me. I honestly don’t expect him to make a big impact right away, and I think he would have developed more as a starter in Brazil for the next few months than as a late-game substitute in Italy.)
Signing Antonio Candreva – B
Another case of probable overpayment, and a player who is probably a better fit with a Mancini team than a De Boer one. But his quality is undeniable, providing that touch of invention and that knack for accurate crosses that handicapped us time after time last season. As the Palermo match showed us, Icardi is still a player who will probably score if you swing a ball in anywhere near him, and I hope to see lots more of that from Candreva this season.
Signing Cristian Ansaldi – C+
I just recently kvetched at great length about Inter’s full-back problems. But I think the most charitable thing you can say is that we’ve stocked our roster with players who would all be decent rotation full-backs, without finding anyone who deserves to be a starter. Though he could surprise us, Ansaldi seems to be in keeping with the trend: A 29-year-old with experience in the league, he’s a solid journeyman player who ought to be useful over a long season, but will at best probably represent a minor improvement over D’Ambrosio/Santon/Nagatomo.
Keeping Ranocchia/Santon/Melo/Jovetic – D
As my earlier grades indicate, I was very impressed with Inter’s purchases this summer. Our biggest failing, however, was our inability to move on players who are obviously unneeded at the club. Whether it was due to a comic string of failed medicals (Santon), the sheer impossibility of working with Fiorentina (Jovetic), or the unbearable crappiness of being Andrea Ranocchia (Ranocchia), our lack of luck as a selling club leaves us with both an unworkably large squad and a noticeable lack of income to make up for our huge expenditures. (The fact that so many of our biggest signings had to be left off of our EL squad list only shows what a problem this could turn out to be.) Although it could be a blessing in disguise: Deprived of a proper pre-season to get to know the club’s players, De Boer might start to see something he likes in these want-aways, and by this time in January, we might be marveling at the miraculous rebirth of Jovetic or Santon. Or, more likely, we will get to finding new homes for them as soon as the winter window opens.
Keeping Marcelo Brozovic – B
Of course, if any of the players Inter unsuccessfully attempted to sell this summer turns over a new leaf this season, it’ll probably be Brozo. Though an inconsistent and sometimes uncomfortable fit in Mancini’s system, Brozovic has tons of obvious potential, and he could well be a revelation in a more technical, Dutch style of playing.
Selling Juan Jesus – C
It’s not that I’m upset about losing JJ, per se. It’s been years since he looked like he could develop into a world-class defender, and I don’t think he would’ve ever made his way back into the starting XI. But the fact that we sold him without replacing him might prove to be a mistake. JJ was our best backup center back (aside from Medel, who we needed in midfield), and he was also a fully adequate left back for matches where we needed an extra dose of defensive security. These are two areas where we can use all the help we can get, and I’m not sure the loose change we got from Roma for him will turn out to be worth it.
Lack of defensive reinforcements – D
Speaking of Juan Jesus, if anything we did or failed to do this summer will turn around and bite us in the ass, it’s this. Let’s all say a prayer for Miranda and Murillo’s knees, ankles, and tendons, because our entire season is riding on them.
Signing/Selling Caner Erkin – N/A
On the whole, this might be the ultimate no-harm-no-foul transfer snafu. We paid essentially nothing to bring Erkin here, he didn’t play a single match, and then we were rid of him before the season even started. He went from "new Inter player" to "future football trivia answer" in the span of a few weeks. Yet the whole ordeal only reinforces the popular notion that Inter is a club where chaos reigns. And after seeing the knee-jerk second-guessing we’ve done with signings like Erkin and Shaqiri before him, I wouldn’t blame a player for being hesitant to join a club where he knows he could be packing his bags before he’s even signed a lease on a new apartment.
My Overall Transfer Market Grades for Top Serie A Teams
Juventus – A (those bastards)
Inter – B
Napoli – B
Roma – B-
Torino – B-
Fiorentina – C-
Lazio – D
Milan – LOL