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Winners and losers from Inter’s mercato

Assessing the winners and losers from Inter’s summer transfer window.

FC Internazionale v ACF Fiorentina -Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Well, the summer transfer window, and Inter Milan’s opportunity to strengthen their squad, is officially over. It was certainly an interesting window that saw the club change quite a bit. Inter parted ways with several fringe players, brought in reinforcements, but also left some areas of the squad paper-thin. For a full recap of who’s out and who’s in check out Matt’s article here.

After a summer of change, there are several winners and losers from Inter’s plunge into the open market. Let’s take a closer look at a few below.

Winner: Mauro Icardi

If one thing was clear from the summer transfer window, it’s that Luciano Spalletti and Inter did everything they could to build this team around their superstar, Mauro Icardi. Just look at the players the club brought in and retained.

Despite receiving heavy interest from the Premier League, both Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva stayed with the club, and will continue to supply Icardi from the wings. Inter also signed a deep-lying playmaker in Borja Valero, who is known for his ability to play deft long passes, and the club acquired Dalbert and Joao Cancelo, two more dynamic and offensively-sound fullbacks know for their crossing abilities. As a result, Icardi should be the beneficiary of nearly unlimited service from everywhere on the pitch.

The Argentine striker already has four goals in two Serie A matches. Without European football to worry about, and with these creative improvements in the starting XI, there’s every reason to believe that Icardi will light the league on fire this season. That’s good news for Inter.

Loser: Luciano Spalletti

The bad news is that there’s very little breathing room for Inter’s new manager, Luciano Spalletti. Talent-wise, Inter’s starting lineup is better than it was last season, but depth is a serious concern for the club, especially in defense.

With Cancelo out for the foreseeable future, Spalletti is an unlucky injury and suspension away from having to start a backline of Dalbert, Andrea Ranocchia, Zinho Vanheusden, and Danilo D’Ambrossio. That would be scary for a lower mid-table side, let one a club that’s supposed to be competing for a Champions League spot.

Inter are also noticeably thin in attack. Right now, with Jovetic and Gabriel Barbosa gone, the backups to Perisic, Icardi, and Candreva appear be Eder, Andrea Pinamonti, and Yann Karamoh. That could become a concern if any of the club’s starting attackers misses time to injury.

In total, Spalletti only has 22 first-team players at his disposal, which is by far the smallest squad of Inter’s top-four rivals. With all of this in mind, qualifying for the Champions League is going to be a serious challenge for Inter’s new manager. One thing is clear, the club did not do Spalletti any favors this summer.

Winner: Andrea Ranocchia

Southampton FC v FC Internazionale Milano - UEFA Europa League
Ranocchia’s back and more important than ever.
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Guess who’s back and more important than ever? That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite defensive flop. As it stands, Andrea Ranocchia, despite being sent on loan in each of the last two seasons, is Inter’s third-choice center back. Yikes.

Like it or not, this offers Ranocchia a second third fourth chance to revive his Inter career. Perhaps the 29-year-old can become a different player under Spalletti, but you probably shouldn’t count on that. At this point what you see with Ranocchia is likely what you’re going to get.

As disappointing as it is, Ranocchia is now an important player for the Nerazzurri. Don’t call it a comeback.

Loser: Gabriel Barbosa

FC Internazionale v Bologna FC - Serie A
Barbosa’s time at the San Siro appears to be over.
Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

If you were hoping to see Spalletti work his magic and mold Inter’s €29.5m singing into a committed and serviceable player, you’ll surely be disappointed with the outcome for Gabriel Barbosa. The club have essentially severed ties with the Brazilian, loaning him to Benfica with a modestly-priced option to by. The club also replaced him with an even more raw winger in Yann Karamoh on deadline day, so it seems that Gabigol’s short time with Inter is officially over.

With just nine appearances and only one goal to his name, Barbosa wasn’t really given a chance at Inter, but that can’t be all on the club. Gabigol has now had the opportunity to work under four managers at Inter, and each reached the same conclusion; that the Brazilian did not deserve playing time. It remains to be seen if Barbosa can save his career at Benfica. Regardless, his future looks to be away from the San Siro.

Winner: Recent Primavera graduates

With Inter getting rid of fringe players such as Stevan Jovetic, Jeison Murillo, Gary Medel, Gabriel Barbosa, Gianluca Caprari, and Jonathan Biabiany this summer, the squad is much leaner this season. As a result, two of Inter’s most recent Primavera graduates may finally have the opportunity to play a role for the club, which is exciting.

In June, Andrea Pinamonti and Zinho Vanheusden led Inter’s academy to the Primavera Scudetto and were both extremely important players for Stefano Vecchi. The Italian striker and Belgian center back are two of the brightest prospects at the club, and it would be great to see them given an opportunity to play. While it remains to be seen how much of a chance Spalletti gives them, Inter’s lack of squad depth should be encouraging for Pinamonti and Vanheusden.

It would be unfair to put much pressure on two teenagers, but it would be welcome news if Inter’s frustrating Mercato results in Pinamonti and Vanheusden breaking into the first-team. We’ll have to wait and see if that actually happens, but there’s hasn’t been a better time to be a Primavera graduate at Inter in recent memory.

Loser: Suning and their credibility

FC Internazionale v Juventus FC - Serie A
Suning have left Spalletti with an extremely difficult task if Inter are to qualify for the Champions League.
Photo by Pier Marco Tacca - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

While you have to give Suning, Walter Sabatini, and Inter’s management credit for hiring Spalletti, staying FFP-compliant, and conducting some good business this summer, it would be wrong to give them a free pass for their failures. They left the club unacceptably thin at the center back position, and were unable to bring in a truly transcendent player to completely transformation the squad.

This summer, Inter were linked with the likes of Radja Nainggolan, Angel Di Maria, Arturo Vidal, Kostas Manolas, Nemanja Matic, and Patrik Schick (who seemed to desperately want a move to Inter, so we can be justifiably irate if he turns into a star at Roma). When it was all said and done, the highest transfer fee Inter paid was … €24m for Matias Vecino. In the Uruguayan’s defense, he’s a good player that offers a different dynamic to Spalletti’s midfield options, but he’s decidedly not the star addition we expected.

This summer, the football landscape once again changed. Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Leonardo Bonucci, Ousmane Dembélé, Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata, Federico Bernardeschi, Kyle Walker, Alexandre Lacazette, and Naby Keïta all signed with new cubs.

While I’m not suggesting Inter were close to signing any of these players, it’s nonetheless disappointing to see the club financially hindered during the window.

Don’t get me wrong, Inter improved this mercato, but we expected fireworks and were barely given a candle. Spalletti can only do so much. At the end of the day, the responsibility lies with the club’s owners — if Inter fail to qualify for the Champions League it will likely be on them.

Do you have any other winners or losers from Inter’s transfer window? Share in the comments below.