With the new year upon us, that means it’s time for yet another transfer window’s doors to open. The January market is usually a relatively quiet month as teams are hesitant to spend big and replacements for star players aren’t easy to procure. Inter didn’t make any moves in the 2021 version of this window and that very well may be the case again as the Nerazzurri and Suning try to find their financial footing. But the Italian media would have us believe Beppe Marotta will have €15 million at his disposal, and for the sake of #content, let’s explore that possibility. The current squad doesn’t have many obvious holes in it but there’s always room for improvement, especially if Inter wants to take advantage of being back in the Champions League Round of 16 at long last. Liverpool is likely a bridge too far for even an Inter team as in-form as the current one is and the absence of Nicolo Barella for both legs could be a killer blow. Still, if Inter makes the most of its limited budget (and with Beppe Marotta in charge, you know he will), the right addition could be just what Simone Inzaghi needs to put up a fight against the Reds. Let’s take a look at some of the most enticing options available to pursue on the market in the coming weeks.
First and foremost is a name very familiar to the transfer rumor section of Italian papers. Nahitan Nandez was heavily linked with a move to the San Siro over the summer as the Hakimi replacement but ultimately Cagliari refused to let him leave because Inter preferred a loan with an option to buy rather than pay the €36 million release clause. Nandez and his agent have said that the club promised to let him leave and it seems like a matter of time before the 26-year-old leaves Sardinia. Cagliari’s fortunes this year are unlikely to have persuaded him to stick around, with the Isolani mired in the relegation zone and showing limited signs of life.
Nandez’s potential role at Inter is likely to have changed from what the summer rumors initially indicated. Denzel Dumfries has taken over the right-wingback role with Matteo Darmian providing more than adequate backup. Inter could then look to utilize Nandez in his more natural central midfield position. The Nerazzurri are in desperate need of quality depth in the center of the park and Nandez would be a welcome addition to the midfield rotation. He’s shown flashes of quality at Cagliari but the Uruguayan seems like a player that would blossom around better teammates (as some might say Calhanoglu has done).
The main question mark once again centers around Cagliari. Would the club let him leave in the winter or try and keep him at any cost as they prepare for a life or death fight against relegation? Could Nandez be sold to generate profits to fix the squad elsewhere? Nandez is definitely a name worth keeping an eye on in January, but it’s hard to see a move happening until the summer once Cagliari is in Serie B and loses a significant chunk of negotiating power.
Probability of happening: 30%
Grading the move: 6/10 - He’s unlikely to come cheaply in January and there are probably better options out there for the same price, but at worst Inter picks up a depth piece able to play multiple positions and give the regular starters a break without a significant drop in quality.
Whereas Nandez has been on the transfer rumor scene for a while, Davide Frattesi has burst onto the radar in just a few months. The 22-year-old midfielder spent the past couple of seasons on loan in Serie B but was finally promoted to the first team at Sassuolo after Manuel Locatelli’s departure. Frattesi took the Mapei Stadium by storm and is one of the first names on the teamsheet for Alessio Dionisi’s side. The Roma youth product has 19 appearances so far, finding the back of the net four times. He’s more of an offensive wrecking ball than an on-the-ball facilitator, however, averaging a passing accuracy of 83.3% and 32.89 completed passes per 90. Of Inter’s midfielders, Frattesi resembles Barella far more than Brozovic, the latter of which is in more need of January reinforcements. From the far amount of Sassuolo I’ve watched this season, Frattesi looks the readiest of the Neroverdi’s highly sought-after trio (Raspadori, Scamacca, Frattesi) to make the jump to a big club. Even if he’s not quite a perfect fit for Inter’s biggest area of need (depth behind Brozovic), there’s no doubt in my mind that he would be an instant contributor for Simone Inzaghi’s side.
Sassuolo, however, has no need to sell the Italian in January and would probably push to keep him until the summer when a bidding war can take place. If Inter wants to get its hands on Frattesi before the crowd, it's going to have to make a bold move in the coming weeks. Perhaps some combination of cash and Stefano Sensi or Matias Vecino would entice the Neroverdi to give up Frattesi but it’s doubtful to be an easy negotiation.
Probability of happening: 45%
Grading the move: 8/10 - Frattesi is a blossoming talent and getting him in Inter colors would be a massive success. Perhaps a move doesn’t happen this winter but keep Frattesi in the back of your mind for the future.
Looking beyond the borders of the peninsula, one name that has been linked with Inter off and on for the past few windows is Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic. The 24-year-old has yet to find his footing at the Bernabeu and could leave for more consistent playing time. He has 3 goals and 4 assists in 45 appearances for Los Blancos across three campaign, including one goal and two helpers this season. There’s no question Jovic is a talented player, it’s just a matter of whether he’s at the right club to make it happen. It’s looking more and more like Madrid is not that place, so perhaps Carlo Ancelotti would be tempted to let Jovic leave on loan until a permanent solution can be found. Inter would likely need to offload Alexis Sanchez and his massive salary to make that happen, however, and Jovic likely has suitors from across Europe.
Probability of happening: 30%
Grading the move: 7/10 - Jovic is a bit of a wildcard option, as it’s a massive question mark whether he’ll refind his best form away from Spain. If he does, Inter can add yet another lethal weapon to its attack and rotate the front two a bit more. If not, well, an unsuccessful six-month loan isn’t the end of the world. The big question is how much Inter want Jovic/if any offers come in for Sanchez. Madrid also might not want to let the Serbian leave without assurances of a permanent move.
Last but not least comes Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutch midfielder is reportedly unhappy with his playing time at PSG despite only arriving in France over the summer. With 12 starts and 22 total appearances so far, the Parisian club could view him as expendable, but it’s worth noting his playing time has ticked upwards in the past several weeks. Still, he would be a superb signing for Inter. The Nerazzurri are in desperate need of midfield depth and while Frattesi would be great, the 22-year-old won’t be able to contribute as much immediately compared to 31-year-old Wijnaldum. With Barella suspended, he would be especially handy against Liverpool, the club where he spent the last five seasons.
Probabilty of happening: 20%
Grading the move: 8/10 - Wijnaldum would be a massive upgrade on Inter’s current midfield depth and a huge asset in the Liverpool tie. His contract at PSG runs until 2024 however, and there’s no telling what the French club would want in return for the Dutchman’s services. If at all possible though, Inter should be doing its best to get ahold of Wijnaldum.
There are quite a few names linked with Inter over the past few months left off this list. Both Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori are unlikely to be allowed to leave Sassuolo midseason, and both would probably get more from staying at the Mapei for another six months than jumping to a big club too soon (Scamacca looks most ready for the next step while Raspadori might be better suited to another full season in Neroverdi. French left wingback Lucas Digne has surfaced in Inter-related transfer rumors recently but I’ll wait to embark on more extensive research until something substantial (a cursory glance has led me to believe he’s a cut or two below Perisic and Kostic but still a quite capable backup).
What do you think? Who would you want to see in Inter colors come January? Let us know in the poll and comments below.
If you could only choose one, who would you want Inter to sign in January?
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