Inter Milan reached the mid-way point of the season exactly where many expected — third in the league behind Juventus and Napoli, and out of the Champions League after being drawn in the Group of Death. Although many fans are disappointed after some poor results (most noticeably the draw with PSV), the club are on track to meet their main target for the season which was to once again qualify for the Champions League. Inter currently hold a seven-point advantage over Lazio in fourth position, and eight points over Milan in fifth.
That said, it remains to be seen how hard Inter push for any new signings in the January window. The club are entering the final six months of their Settlement Agreement with UEFA will be very careful not to make any moves which risk unbalancing their budget. Realistically, the only way the club can spend real money would be if they were to sell a player - with Gabriel Barbosa looking the most likely candidate. Other than this, expect the club to focus on loan + option deals or, potentially, player swaps.
If the club were to delve into the market, their performances (and rumours) suggest that the midfield is the area they would be eager to strengthen. With the exception of Marcelo Brozovic, Inter are still lacking a player who is able to combine technical ability and a physical presence in the midfield. Borja Valero is all technique, but struggles to battle the opposition midfielders.
Roberto Gagliardini and Matias Vecino offer physicality but struggle to dictate the play. Indeed, Inter incredibly reliant on Brozovic and their overall performance drops significantly without him in the line-up. This is a particular concern as the Croatian has already missed two matches due to suspension (one for a red card, one for an accumulation of fouls).
The side would also greatly benefit from this player having the ability to get forward and support attacks. A bonafide box-to-box player. Joao Mario (who has performed admirably so far) is able to transition the ball well through the midfield, but we rarely see him getting into goal-scoring positions. Should Spalletti persist with the 4-3-3, then it is essential that the midfielders get forward to avoid leaving Mauro Icardi isolated. Roberto Gagliardini has shown flashes of this ability but hasn’t made an appearance since the Juventus match.
If Spalletti is considering moving back to the 4-2-3-1 - then the club may consider bringing in a alternate No. 10. Right now that position is Radja Nainggolan’s, but even the biggest Ninja fan would be disappointed with the players output so far. His injury record this season has been atrocious, and the team lacks a proper alternative in that role. Lautaro has had some minutes, however he appears better suited to playing alongside Icardi in a front two. Borja has also spent some time there, but he has his limitations.
Outside of the midfield, Inter will likely only need to make moves if another player leaves. Miranda is rumoured to be keen to move on to find more playing time, but Inter will be reluctant to let him go unless they can secure a quality replacement.
There has been interest in Dalbert, but the player finally appeared to be showing some form before he fell victim to injury. The only other player with a real chance of being moved on is Antonio Candreva who has fallen behind Keita Balde in the pecking order. This would be more likely if Spalletti continues to experiment with the 3-5-2 which was have seen recently.
Think Inter should focus on other area of the team, or have suggestions on the players who could help? Let us know in the comments below.