The previous season ended on a wild note and the ‘mercato’ that followed for Inter Milan was equally as wild. After more than seven seasons of disappointment, Inter fans would never have expected signings like Radja Nainggolan, Stefan De Vrij and Lautaro Martinez in just one season. But with every rose, there will be some thorns which Luciano Spalletti will need to address.
Bench a center-back / Change our formation
We have among our ranks, three elite center-backs in Joao Miranda, Milan Skriniar and De Vrij. There has been a lot of talk about whether Spalletti will go for three at the back in order to accommodate all three of them or stick to the tried and tested formation he used last year.
If there’s anything we learned from the past season, it’s that Skriniar is indispensable to the team. Inter managers have always emphasized on building up from the back and they were never able to do that with someone like a Jeison Murillo, Gary Medel or a Miranda. The arrival of Skriniar solved that , he has incredible ability to carry the ball out of defense and break defensive lines with his passing ability.
Miranda in many ways is the perfect partner for Skriniar, he has the speed to cover for the slower Skriniar. His other physical attributes are a bonus. De Vrij is essentially a mix of the two players. Leaving either on the bench is a tough decision that Spalletti will have to make if he decides to stick to his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation.
Before we start jumping with joy at the arrival of Kwadwo Asamoah, we have to address a few rumors. There are rumors that Asamoah’s agent categorically stated to Spalletti that his client would not play as a left-back.
Think Javi Martinez, Wayne Rooney or even Paulinho. What do they have all in common ? Versatility, and it isn’t a good kind of versatility like that of Modric or a Nacho Fernandez, it’s an incredible versatility which led to the players having to sacrifice their favourite positions since they didn’t have any one strongly identified position.
Kwadwo has always preferred a central role. When he was in Udinese , he was considered to be one of the best central midfielders in the league.
If the rumour is true, than it’s not good news for Inter. Asamoah doesn’t have the best technical ability, he’s more of a destroyer and we already have Radja for that role. Not to mention that Gagliardini and Vecino will receive lesser game time.
In such a scenario, our first-choice left back will be D’Ambrosio , who is a solid defensive asset but makes little to no offensive contribution and once again, we will have a situation where Perisic is left all alone on the left flank, waging a lone battle. (Or maybe Dalbert wasn’t a bust?)
But again all of this could be speculation and nothing more, for all we know Asamoah would just love to have consistent game-time and would form a lethal combination with Ivan Perisic.
On the contrary, the right-back situation is much much more messy than the left flank. We have no established right back. There is talk about purchasing Malcolm, Sime Vrsaljko or Matteo Darmian but all three have their own separate issues.
Vrsaljko is very similar to a Danilo D’Ambrosio, solid defender but lacks any offensive bite. Is he worth the €25 million we would pay the next season? It’s a tough call, but I would say no such a deal. Malcolm is on his way to Roma. Any offer on Darmian would mean a counter-offer on Perisic. The only viable option left is Florenzi.
Florenzi might be a tad overrated but he would solve a lot of Inter’s issues at right back. He’s no Joao Cancelo but is much better than the current options we have. With just one year left on his contract, and his friend Nainggolan at the club, Florenzi might just be Inter’s next right back.
However, there is one problem. Inter would have to pay €15-20 million straight up to finance a deal for Florenzi, no loan deal will be possible. But since FFP might not allow that, Inter would have to trade their players - Dalbert, Candreva + €5 million could be reasonable for both clubs.
If Florenzi doesn’t work out, then Inter just have to go for players like Aleix Vidal, Bartosz Bereszynski or just play Candreva at right wing-back. Yup, Antonio Candreva. He might be a banana in front of goal, but is the best fit tactically for a right wing-back. His workrates, dribbling ability and crosses will be useful in such a position.
The arrival of the extremely versatile Radja Nainggolan is great news. He can play behind the striker, as a central midfielder or an inside forward on the left flank. Brozovic is assured of a starting team berth.
Then the question is whether we should start Vecino or Gagliardini. Both the box-to-box midfielders are very similar in many ways. Vecino is slightly slower, but has better positioning which allows him to record more ball recoveries and interceptions. My guess is Spalletti will choose them depending on the opposition.
Wingers / Forwards
The forward line should not be a problem for Spalletti. Icardi and Perisic are undisputed starters. For the first time in a long while, we have three incredible players to bring off the bench - Lautaro Martinez, Yann Karamoh and Matteo Politano.
All of the players are incredibly versatile. In Politano, you have a traditional winger who can score 10 goals and give 5 assists a season, a rarity in modern football. In Karamoh (who’s been great in pre-season so far) you have somebody who will run for every loose ball, engage in every duel, a perfect player to bring off the bench in the last 15 minutes, not allowing teams to settle down in possession and also being a big target during set-pieces.
The only question is how much game-time will Lautaro Martinez receive? Martinez is among the hottest talents in the world right now. He had offers from several premier league clubs , big clubs like Manchester City and Real Madrid were also interested. The reason he chose Inter Milan was probably that he would get sufficient game time. Spalletti must handle a talent like this carefully. We don’t need another Dalbert.
This mercato has been the best one I have seen for a long, long time. Inter fans should be grateful, that we are now in a position to finish second/third in the league and also make a deep run in the Coppa or maybe the Champions League. But Spalletti has to handle his rotations well, or this entire season might be one to forget.
Ed. Note: This article has been edited to reflect “Champions League” in final paragraph.
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