With the start of Serie A’s 2021/22 season now only days away, it’s time for one of our favorite times of the year here at SoM; season previews. This year we’re starting a new segment and looking at the upcoming campaign position-by-position. First up is goalkeeper, where a now 37-year-old Samir Handanovic is preparing for his ninth season at the San Siro as the starter.
Depth Chart: Samir Handanovic, Andrei Radu, Alex Cordaz
Best Case Scenario: Despite finally getting his hands on silverware, Handanovic was far from his best in the 2020/21 campaign. Inter still managed to have the league-best defense thanks to its world-class back three but the introduction of Simone Inzaghi’s more open tactics will put more pressure on Handanovic. The Slovenian’s trio of incredible saves against Milan in the derby showed he still has his best in him somewhere, even if a handful of errors cost Inter points later on against Napoli and Spezia. His slower reaction time and occasional unexplainable blunders aren’t likely to disappear but if Handanovic can be at his best in big games, Inter will survive another season with the veteran in goal.
Worst Case Scenario: As important as it was that Handanovic stood on his head against Milan, that was only one game. He was directly responsible for four goals (Benevento, Verona, Napoli, Spezia) and rarely made any above-average saves. If his downward trend worsens and Inter’s defensive stability is thrown off by the managerial change, what was the Nerazzurri’s strong suit last year might start to become a liability.
Best Case Scenario: After riding the bench for almost an entire season, Radu finally made it onto the pitch once Inter clinched the Scudetto. He was neither particularly impressive nor a weakness in two appearances. There was an expectation he’d leave on loan for the upcoming season but as of yet, no offers have materialized. At 24, he’s entering a period of his career where he needs consistent playing time. That won’t be the case if he stays at Inter and it would be best for all parties if he finds a temporary home for the next year. Should he impress Inter might have its Handanovic replacement already in the ranks, or at worst a slight plusvalenza. If he fades into mediocrity on loan, that’s no worse than sitting on the bench week after week for Inter, and at least we’d have a much clearer understanding of his abilities and potential.
Worst Case Scenario: Should Radu remain at Inter for the 21/22 season, he’ll have a permanent seat on the bench reserved for him. Even if Handanovic is in poor form, dropping the capitano for a rather unproven 24-year-old has few rewards. At best Radu could hope for a rare Coppa Italia start and a plateau of his development that would only make it harder for Inter to find a buyer for him next summer.
Best Case Scenario: Cordaz’s signing from Crotone to replace Udinese-bound Daniele Padelli understandably went under the radar this summer. Despite starting for the since-relegated Squali last season, the 39-year-old will be no more than a backup for Inter. If Radu leaves on loan, Cordaz will be the primary deputy to Handanovic and could see a scattering of action throughout the season.
Worst Case Scenario: The only way he’ll get an extended run of starts is if Handanovic goes down with an injury. Cordaz is a serviceable keeper at best and even if Handanovic isn’t as good as he once was, he’s still better than Cordaz.