Welcome to our Samir Handanovic 2020/21 report card. As part of our post-season coverage, we’ll be dishing out grades and analyzing every Inter player’s season.
Sunday, May 23rd was a very joyous day in the Inter world. The Nerazzurri lifted its 19th Scudetto and first in over a decade after a five-star victory over Udinese to close out the season. One of the most special moments of the day was when Samir Handanovic put his gloves on the trophy. After nine seasons and 389 games in a Nerazzurri kit, no one deserved Inter’s Scudetto triumph more than the capitano.
Games Played: 47 (47 starts, 4,170 minutes)
Goals Conceded: 45
What went right this season?
While this was the season Handanovic finally touched success, it wasn’t his best on the pitch. But luckily for the Slovenian, he had the best backline in the league in front of him, much unlike the Banter Era where he put the defense on his back. Inter conceded the second-fewest shots on target in Serie A (112) and rarely let up quality chances. He faced 2.83 shots per game and each had an average of 0.25 expected goals. Understandably, Handanovic had one of the highest save percentages and the most clean sheets (14) in league action.
Though his overall campaign was lacking, Handanovic still had a major say in the fate of the title race. With Inter up 1-0 at halftime in the last Derby Della Madonnina of the season, Milan went to a full-on attack after the interval. The Rossoneri had Inter all over the place and easily broke through the Nerazzurri’s lines. But thanks to a trio of incredible Handanovic saves, Inter had the opportunity to counterattack its way to a second and seal the victory. Even at 36 years of age, he managed to keep a pair of Zlatan headers away and acrobatically pawed a Tonali shot over the crossbar. That was the only time this season we saw that particular form of Handanovic on the pitch, but he couldn’t have chosen a better time.
What does he need to improve on?
The stats may say Handanovic is one of the better keepers on the peninsula, but that’s thanks to Inter’s superb defense more than anything. The veteran made several high-profile errors that cost Inter points against Napoli and Spezia, and needed to be bailed out vs Benevento and Verona. With the exception of the Milan game, he also rarely made above-average saves. Handanovic usually took good care of the benign shots that snuck through Inter’s defense, but anything with pace and power was likely to find the back of the net.
What role will he play in 2021/22?
Inter’s finances will probably force Simone Inzaghi to look at Handanovic as the number one next season unless a cheap replacement can be procured. His veteran experience can still come in handy, but Inter will again be living on a knife’s edge defensively without an upgrade in goal.