We've signed someone!
Yes, that's right. Do not rub your eyes or adjust your screens. After a very quiet first month of this summer's calciomercato, in which we have mostly sold and watched others buy, Inter have finally announced their first proper senior signing ahead of the 2017-18 season. (With all due respect, Daniele Padelli and Nicolo Zaniolo don't really count.)
"Milan Skriniar has signed for Inter" reads an official statement published on the club website this Friday morning. "The Slovakian has penned a five-year deal after the Nerazzurri agreed a fee with Sampdoria for the permanent transfer of the defender."
The fee has not been officially disclosed by either club, but according to Skriniar's agent, Karol Csonto, Inter are to pay Samp €23m + €2m in add-ons. Not a cheap signing, then - if I tell you that transfermarkt has his current market value at €7m, that might put into perspective just how much faith the club is placing in him to come good. (Although from what I've seen of him he's certainly worth more than €7m...)
"Skriniar, 22, began his career in the academy of hometown club Ziar nad Hronom, before moving to one of the country's most prestigious clubs MSK Zilina", continues the statement.
"He made his first-team debut aged just 17 on 27 March 2012 in a 1-1 draw against Zlate Moravce, before establishing himself as one of the most exciting young prospects in the domestic league. Milan made 93 appearances in all competitions and he certainly knows where the goal is too, scoring 13 times en route to winning a domestic double and the super cup in 2012.
Sampdoria brought him to Italy in the 2016 January transfer window and he made his debut in a 2-1 home victory over Lazio in late April 2016. Last term, Skriniar played a key role for Marco Giampaolo's Blucerchiati, finishing the campaign as the youngest defender to have made at least 35 appearances in Serie A." Below is a highlights reel of those 35 appearances. Not bad, eh?
Of those 35 appearances, some Interisti might remember the two very impressive performances he put in against us last season, with Samp beating us both home and away for the first time in (I presume) a very long time.
While none of us really cared at the time, Skriniar was especially brilliant in the Blucerchiati's come-from-behind win at San Siro in early April, with sampnews24.com awarding him 7.5/10 and identifying him as the clear Man of the Match. "Skriniar silenced Icardi, completely erasing him from the pitch", they wrote that night. "It's difficult to remember another performance as dominant as this one from a Sampdoria player this season."
Oh, and while we're looking back at last season, somebody also tweeted a handy statistical comparison with Leonardo Bonucci in the 2016-17 campaign, which if nothing else gives you an idea of some of his strengths and weaknesses.
Skriniar vs Bonucci— DLI™ (@DopoLavoroInter) June 27, 2017
Sulle stats dei passaggi bisogna stare atteni ma la % di passaggi riusciti nella metacampo avversaria e' importante pic.twitter.com/OJEoidyyy7
(Heading downwards, the categories are: passes attempted - pass completion rate - pass completion rate in the opposition half - individual duels won - individual duels lost - % of individual duels won - aerial duels won - aerial duels lost - % of aerial duels won - balls recovered
And the top bit: position [defender] - matches played - minutes played - matches played as starter - subbed in - subbed out.)
Back to Inter's statement though, which then moved onto Skriniar's experience at international level. "Milan has played for his country at every age group and made his senior bow for Slovakia in a 3-1 friendly win over Georgia on 27 May 2016. Skriniar also made his country's squad for last summer's Euros in France, featuring against England and Germany.
This summer he was involved in the European Under-21 championship, starting all three of his side's matches in Poland and recording a tournament high 13 clearances. He also made UEFA's team of the tournament." The article announcing the team on UEFA's website praised his "controlled aggression and clean, clinical style", which they said "underpinned his country's challenge".
Uefa - Top 11 Europei U21: Pollerbseck, Skriniar, Tolijan, Stark, Gerhardt, Arnold, Ceballos, Saul, Meyer, Asensio, Bernardeschi pic.twitter.com/Iq4eEoEThl— Daniele Mari (@danmari83) July 1, 2017
Skriniar is the second Slovak to play for Inter in their history, although the chances of him doing worse than the first are pretty slim. If you don't remember Vratislav Gresko, that's a good thing.
The article concludes with a simple "Welcome to Milan, Mr Skriniar! Best of luck at Inter!" (The city Milan, obviously.)
So let's here from the man himself, who spoke from the offices of Stars&Friends this afternoon: "I didn't expect this, I have a lot of mixed feelings. Inter are a top club that are known all around the world. It hasn't sunk in yet, but it's time to stop daydreaming and demonstrate who I really am on the pitch. On Sunday I will go to Milan, where I have some media duties to complete, and then after that I'll join up with the squad in Brunico before flying out to China. It's nice to have signed a five-year contract - I've not had much holiday time this summer, but when Inter come calling it gives you the energy to get going again."
Skriniar then spared a few words for his new coach, Luciano Spalletti. "I spoke to Spalletti on the phone recently, he told me that he was happy to have me in the squad. I think it's nice to have a coach who calls you and shows that he cares about you. Let's see what happens on the pitch, every coach has his own footballing principles: it's up to him to decide what my role on the pitch will be. At Inter there's competition in every position, it will be a big challenge for me to face: I have to make the most of every opportunity I get to nail down a place in the starting XI."
Skriniar has chosen the number 37 shirt, as the photo below confirms.
There's our first big summer signing for you, then - and it shouldn't be long before another is announced. Inter and Fiorentina are expected to formalise a deal worth roughly €6m for Borja Valero by the end of Friday, so it won't be long before the Spaniard is among our midst too. Luciano Spalletti is hoping to have him training with the rest of the group on Sunday.
Let's end with another comment from SampNews24, who said this of Skriniar's 2016-17 season the day after Samp's final game: "In an experimental Sampdoria squad, Milan Skriniar is the player who has surprised us the most for his continual improvement, both in his ability to read matches and his ability to interpret them in the correct manner. There have been some slip-ups along the way, let's be clear, but his 2016-17 season has been more than sufficient and tends towards a 7/10. He still has a few flaws that Giampaolo will be able to work on in preseason training, but the verdict for this season is definitely positive." As it turns out, it'll be Spalletti working on those flaws and not Giampaolo.
Welcome to Inter, Milan! (There's a sentence I never thought I'd say...)