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Mangala, Mustafi - A look at Inter's Defensive Search

Method or Madness

FC Internazionale v ACF Fiorentina -Serie A
Central defensive backup options are a worry for the Inter faithful
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

If you asked a hundred Inter Milan fans what their biggest concern for this season was, there is a very likelihood that more than two-thirds would cite defensive frailties as their top concern. Our problems at the fullback position are well publicized from last season and our center back position isn't a symbol of stability either.

After an impressive debut season, Jeison Murillo regressed last season. Miranda while more consistent, showed chinks in his armor too. All this resulted in completely inept defensive displays towards the end of last season where Inter managed zero clean sheets after February's 1-0 win against Bologna. That is 13 games if you are counting!

Inter began the new season with a promising display, beating Fiorentina 3-0. Miranda and Skriniar seemed to strike up a good partnership and thwarted most Fiorentina attacks with composure. Inter have also signed Dalbert and (loaned) Cancelo so in theory that should help fix some of our issues at full back.

Spalletti is also known to extract the best from his players so we could expect better performances from Nagatomo and D'Ambrosio. There was some (although very small) evidence of that in the opening match. However, questions at central defense remain.

Inter parted company with Murillo, who left for Valencia. Gary Medel, who played in defense for majority of last season also left during the summer. That leaves Inter pretty threadbare at the Center Back position.

So, are Inter one Miranda injury away from another disastrous season?

Is Skriniar the real deal? Add to that, the fact that Spalletti has confirmed Ranocchia will depart the club as soon as replacements are found.

This brings us to the main talking point surrounding the club's transfer activity – who is Inter looking to sign as defensive back up and do they make any sense.

Recent transfer rumors have linked us with a couple of Premier League club defenders. Whether there is any truth to these rumors remains to be seen, but here is a quick summary of the candidates in question:

Candidate #1 – Eliaquim Mangala

Manchester City v West Ham United - Pre Season Friendly
Eliaquim Mangala has been rumored to be one of Inter's transfer targets
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Age: 26

Current Club: Manchester City

Transfer Fee (est.): Most likely a loan deal with City paying part of his (massive) wages

Pros: It is obvious that City are keen to offload him and if Inter are able to get him on loan without an obligation to buy and part of his wages being paid by the Manchester club, it represents a low risk option. His performances at Valencia were encouraging and much closer to what he displayed in a Porto shirt. May be Spalletti thinks he can get the best out of him in Serie A.

Cons: Many consider him to be the one of the biggest flops in Premier League history, so much so that he was loaned out to Valencia for the 2016-17 season. In spite on a half decent season at the Mestalla, he was sent back to City at the end of his loan. His lack of real pace could also make him a liability in our backline. If does end up being a bust, Inter are left in the same bind as they are in currently – no reliable cover for our starting defensive pair.

Candidate #2 – Shkodran Mustafi

Stoke City v Arsenal - Premier League
Will Shkodran Mustafi help strengthen Inter's backline?
Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Age: 25

Current Club: Arsenal

Transfer Fee (est.): €25-30 million

Pros: From the current options he represents a somewhat proven option with experience in all the big three leagues (Sampdoria – Serie A, Valencia – La Liga, Arsenal – Premier League). He definitely has a physical side to his game is not afraid to make tackles, although this can also be his downfall at times. Having prior Serie A experience albeit at a club with lower expectations will allow him to adapt quicker than someone brand new to the league.

Cons: Aresnal signed Mustafi for around 35 million pounds only last summer and are unlikley to let him go for anything much less, if they let him go at all. After a promising start to his Premier League career, his performances declined towards the second half of the season when he found himself out of position or lunging into tackles he did not need to. For the price that Inter will likely have to pay, the big question mark is whether he can play the role of a Miranda if our vice-captain gets injured?

With all these transfer rumors, one thing that does stand out is the dearth of quality central defenders currently on the market that can be had for sensible money. Unfortunately this is a position that Inter desperately needs cover for as we are currently not spoilt for choice.

All of our attacking promise could be undermined by one serious or long-term injury to our first choice center backs. A manager like Spalletti who is known for bringing the best out of his existing players does not see a future for Ranocchia at Inter says quite a lot.

Could the club have kept Murillo on the books until a replacement was signed? Is D'Ambrosio capable of playing the center back role successfully if the need arises?

The biggest fear is Inter ends up making a panic buy and we have another Ranocchia-esque signing on our hands.

There are certainly doubts whether the options currently being explored by the club would pan out well.

Do you think Inter's current strategy makes sense?

Forza Inter!


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