We might have fallen short in the end, but I can't help it: I kinda loved this team, and I loved watching them (almost) every week. We've got some work to do during the summer to make sure we get our second star before Those Other Guys, but just thought I'd take a minute to acknowledge the standout players of a thrilling season. Ranked from best to not-so-best. As always, free to tell me why I'm an idiot.
Ivan Perisic: 9
Ivan Perisic is 33 years old. He spent the prime years of his career at Inter, and for most of those years he was a good-not-great player. While always a professional on the pitch, he never seemed particularly emotionally connected to the club, and pretty much every summer it was an open question whether he’d still be around come fall. He did leave, eventually, on loan to Bayern for a year. He won a treble with them, and it seemed like he was more than happy to stay there. But instead he was sent back to Inter and forced to adapt, late in his career, to a different role than he’d played all his life, under the same manager who had cut him from the squad 12 months earlier. That’s where he was less than two years ago. And now look at him. A player who blurs the lines between wingback, winger, attacking midfielder and second striker with ease. A perpetual provider of chances and a scorer of some absolutely clutch goals. A shockingly competent defender who seems to have four pairs of lungs, capable of making tackles in his own third and then immediately sprinting to the other side of the pitch to whip in a cross…over and over again…all match…all season. And, perhaps most surprising of all, a real leader on the pitch, a guy the younger players look up to and ask for advice. I don’t think a single person, including Perisic, would have ever predicted that he’d be Inter’s player of the season in 2022. But that’s exactly what he was.
Milan Skriniar: 8.5
The best defender on this team, one of the best defenders on any team, and a human being of impeccable character who has never displayed anything other than 100% commitment to his job. If there’s any justice in the world, he’ll be Inter’s next captain.
Hakan Calhanoglu: 8.5
When he arrived on a free transfer from Milan, the rap on Calhanoglu was that he was a player who could be brilliant in spurts, but who was so wildly inconsistent that he almost wasn’t worth the trouble. That is not an accurate description of the player who arrived on the better side of the city this summer. Did he have some poor matches? Sure, everyone does, but they were few and far between, and Inzaghi did brilliantly to figure out how to get the best out of his varied set of very high-level skills. He provided something that this team didn’t even know it was missing, and he was involved in nearly all of this season’s best passages of play.
Lautaro Martinez: 8
Here we have a player who tends to elicit extreme reactions, but I hope we can we agree on this: Lautaro Martinez has improved every season he’s been here. Not just in the sense of his goals tally (although he’s improved every year there, too), but overall. He no longer overcomplicates things the way he used to. He’s no longer as selfish as he once was. And while he still wins more fouls than anyone else on the squad, he’s gotten much better about knowing when to power through a challenge and when to go down. And then, of course, there are the goals. For the first time since he arrived four years ago, Lautaro was the team’s highest scorer of the season, and I’m sure it means something to him to no longer exist in the shadow of Icardi and Lukaku. I hope it helps him get over the main stumbling block standing between Lautaro and world-class-striker status, which is his sometimes extreme streakiness as a goalscorer. Long goal droughts like the ones he suffers from are usually as much psychological as anything else, and hopefully the confidence of being Inter’s main man now will be the spark he needs to continue improving.
Marcelo Brozovic: 8
As goes Brozovic, so goes Inter. That’s probably been true for a while, but never was it more obvious than this season, when Inter looked like a completely different squad on the rare matches where Brozo wasn’t in the starting 11. Other clubs have finally realized this too, and this season saw several matches where our opponents’ whole strategy relied on trying to mark him out of the game. But no one puts Epic Brozo in the corner for long.
Alessandro Bastoni: 7.5
Well on his way to becoming one of the standout Italian defenders of his generation. He had a few slip-ups here and there this season, but I always have to remind myself that he’s still only 23, because he absolutely does not play football like a 23 year old. Samuel Eto’o recently named Bastoni as his favorite current Inter player, and Giorgio Chiellini considers him his heir. Must be held onto at all costs.
Nicolo Barella: 7.5
You could say that this was the first season where we saw Barella fail to grow substantially from the previous season, but that’s just a testament to how rapidly he had already matured into one of the league’s best midfielders over the past several years. A tireless workhorse every match, always covering as much ground as two players. He can play pretty and he can play dirty. He can play scrappy and he can play smart. I think he’s still going to get better with age, but even if this is the best he ever gets, that’s good enough for me.
Edin Dzeko: 7
Considering the way he ended the season, I’m sure some people might find this rating a bit high. And I won’t deny he had some pretty uninspiring performances, and it was a mistake to think he could lead the line through three grueling tournaments. But once again, some perspective: we signed the then-35-year-old Dzeko in a last-minute panic when our star striker left the club unexpectedly with less than a month before the start of the season. Was he anyone’s first choice for that role? I doubt it. Did he ever figure out how to play alongside our other star striker? Not really. Should he still be our No. 9 next season? Probably not. But the man had 17 goals in all competitions. He scored goals against Juve, Napoli, Atalanta, Roma. He scored the two goals that secured victory against our European bogey team Shakhtar, and finally sent us through to the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time in a decade. All that at 35/36 years old, in his first year with a new club. A little respect for the old-timer, please.
Denzel Dumfries: 7
As expected, it took him some time to adapt to Serie A. But once he finally got going, it was surprising how quickly he made us all forget how much we missed Hakimi, providing the same sort of threat on the right wing and making almost as many goal contributions. Still needs to get a bit sharper and quicker with his decision-making, but he has all the fundamentals to really level-up into a world-class wingback next season.
Matteo Darmian: 6.5
A step back from the player who was such a surprise success under Conte last year, but still a very important part of the squad, and exactly the sort of steady hand we needed while Dumfries was finding his footing.
Danilo D’Ambrosio: 6.5
Inter’s Mr. Dependable off the bench for many years running. He’s not a superstar and he was never going to be, but he’s a team player par excellence who plays his heart out whenever he’s called upon.
Federico Dimarco: 6.5
I suppose it’s not fair to be disappointed in Dimarco, but I’ll admit I really expected this to be his big breakout season, the same way the season before had been for Bastoni. He was a solid player with a few very bright performances, his passion for the club is obvious (just look at his reactions to the Coppa win and to the last-matchday shortcoming), and there’s still plenty of potential there. I just want to see a little more growth from him next time around.
Alexis Sanchez: 6
Sanchez is just about done as a high-level player, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be saying goodbye to him shortly. But he did his job, dammit, and his last-minute winner against Juve in the Supercoppa will always have a place in my heart.
Arturo Vidal: 6
See the entry about his fellow Chilean above, only replace "last-minute winner against Juve" with "dependable substitute appearances and endearing energy on the touchline."
Andrea Ranocchia: 5.5
If you don’t have intense personal affection for Andrea Ranocchia, I don’t know if you’re really an Inter supporter. Got a few starts this year, and his signature one surprise goal per season. Good for him. Forza Froggy per sempre.
Stefan De Vrij: 5.5
To be honest, De Vrij was perfectly solid in most of the matches he played this season. But there were more than a few where he wasn’t fine at all, and it’s impossible not to notice how quickly he’s declined from the man who was probably the best defender in the league just a few years ago. He seems slower, less focused, less sharp. I wouldn’t call him a liability, at least not yet, but this summer seems like the smart time to find a replacement before he becomes one.
Samir Handanovic: 5.5
I hope Samir Handanovic never has to pay for a drink in the city of Milan for the rest of his life. He’s been an exceptional goalkeeper for this club for a full decade, and an absolute rock of stability and calm during some of its messiest periods. No one deserved to finally lift a league trophy more than him last spring. But time, as they say, is undefeated, and time finally gained the upper hand on Samir this season. There’s no shame in that: ten years as Inter’s starting No. 1 is an incredible run. I hope he decides to stay with the club a little while longer, the way Toldo did, and helps the new guy learn the ropes while picking up starts in a few league matches and Coppa ties. That would be nice. He deserves a long, loving send-off, and then a place in the boardroom with Zanetti if he wants it.
Robin Gosens: 5.5
Not his fault he could barely get a foot on the pitch: Inter’s best player of the season happened to be standing right in his way. Good to see him get a goal, though, and I’m hoping for big things from him next time around.
Roberto Gagliardini: 5
Of the two tall, lanky rotation midfielders who have somehow stuck around since the Spalletti years, Gagliardini is the one I’m least annoyed to see come off the bench.
Joaquin Correa: 5
If you only watched Correa's first and last matches of the season, you’d think he was a bonafide superstar. Unfortunately, if you watched the matches in between, you’d have to count him as one of the season’s few outright disappointments. He has considerable skill, no doubt, but his instincts and his reading of the game can be quite poor at times, and far too often Joaquin Correa was the name of the place where promising attacks went to die. Will need to improve massively next season to have a future at this club.
Matias Vecino: 4.5
Look, I’ve got nothing against the guy. He seems nice, and he was a key player during a transitional period for Inter, when we were evolving from upper-mid-table bumblers into regular Scudetto contenders. But the team has long since evolved past the need for him, and I’m sure he’d be much happier elsewhere.
Radu/Kolarov/Caicedo/Sensi: no grade
Simone Inzaghi: 8
Think back to the end of last summer, when Inter had just lost its manager, its best young player, its force-of-nature top goalscorer, and its finally-adapted-to-the-club star midfielder in rapid, dizzying succession. The future of the club was looking deeply ominous, our owners were in serious debt, and we were all wondering if a return to the Banter Era was going to arrive sooner than expected. Now imagine someone from the future comes to you and asks how you would feel to learn that, nine months from then, Inter will have won both domestic cups, will have made it to the CL knockouts and given one of the eventual finalists a real scare, and will have finished a desperately close second place in a Serie A competition that went right down to the very last matchday. How would you feel about that? Disappointed, or pleasantly surprised? What if they also added that Inter accomplished this while playing some of the most exciting, entertaining football that the club has seen in years, with a few younger players starting to emerge as stars and several older veterans playing way better than anyone could have expected them to. Wouldn’t you want to shake the hand of the man who pulled that off? Inzaghi certainly made his share of mistakes, and he fell just inches short of the finish line in the end. But I think he’s had an excellent first season, and remains the best person to lead this club forward.