Inter is already three games into the 2023/24 season, but with so much late drama in the transfer market we thought it would be best to delay our season preview roundtable until the dust had settled. Now that things are (relatively) calm, it’s time. We go over everything from transfer market ratings to kit critiques, and as always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Let’s start with a look back on the transfer market. How would you grade it from 1 (worst) to 10 (best)? What moves caught your eye, who will you miss most from the departures, and which new signing excites you the most?
Anthony: I’d give it a 7. The team lost some significant players (Onana, Skriniar, Brozovic, Lukaku) and had a limited budget to replace them. While I would have loved to have Vicario in goal, he was gone at the start of the campaign, so I think the team did well in finding strong GKs. On defense, Pavard is a great Skriniar replacement, and Bisseck can grow into his role. The wingback replacements are an upgrade – both Cuadrado and Carlos Augusto add a new element to the team. In midfield, I’m a huge fan of Frattesi and can see him becoming a regular starter by the mid-way point of the season (relegating Mkhitaryan to the bench as a super sub), and Sensi is better than Gagliardini. I assume Klaassen is added depth? The biggest questions are at striker. Can Thuram and Arnautovic successfully replace Dzeko and Lukaku? I am happy that Sanchez is replacing Correa, as that is a huge upgrade (albeit from a very low bar). Sanchez will provide both goals and creativity.
David: I’ll give it a 7/10. The financial restrictions are a huge asterisk but I think the management did well under the circumstances. Benjamin Pavard is what really made the summer a success and fits perfectly into Inzaghi’s system on paper. He’s the type of signing that shows that even though this project isn’t moving forward, it’s not entirely dead yet either. Inter needed a move of that caliber after losing Onana (a rough loss but a huge profit), Lukaku, Brozovic, and Skriniar. As for the arrivals, Davide Frattesi, Yann Bisseck, and Carlos Augusto are a nice and much-needed addition of youth and depth. The only question mark is in attack, as Marcus Thuram and Marko Arnautovic aren’t quite sure bets to replace Lukaku and Dzeko’s output. Gianluca Scamacca would have brought the window up to an 8 but beggars can’t be choosers.
One of the more confusing sagas of the summer (and there was no shortage of options) was the mess Romelu Lukaku put himself in. Do you think the club made the right decision moving on from him and would you have handled anything differently?
Anthony: Yes, I agree with the club’s actions once it was revealed that Lukaku was negotiating with Juventus and ignoring phone calls to finalize the transfer from Chelsea to Inter. I believe Juventus was more interested in derailing Inter’s acquisition than actually acquiring Lukaku. He fell for it and is now at Roma. While he will get his share of goals, I’m not sure he will have a great season in the capital.
David: I have no problem saying goodbye for good to a player who wanted to join Juventus even while at Inter, but my worry was that the reported 35 million Inter was willing to drop on Lukaku would be casually added back to the balance sheet rather than spent. After failed moves for Samardzic, Scamacca, and Balogun, that looked to be coming true, but the Pavard signing proved me happily wrong, and I don’t have any complaints about how it all turned out.
Subsequently, the club seems to be placing a lot of faith in Lautaro Martinez to be the main man? Does he have what it takes and if not, where will the goals come from?
Anthony: I think he does, as he functioned as the main striker this past season. If he can eliminate the cold streaks (or limit them to max 3 weeks), he will again be one of the top goal scorers in Serie A. The next question is if any of the other forwards can score on a consistent basis to take some of the pressure off Lautaro. Bringing in Sanchez late in the transfer window helps as he is a natural sub for Lautaro.
David: Three games into the season, and so far the answer is a resounding yes. El Toro leads Serie A with 5 goals and has taken charge of Inter’s attack. At 26, he’s in his footballing prime and it’s showing. As for who else can pick up the slack, Thuram and Arnautovic have given early signs that they’re capable sidekicks up front.
Let’s jump ahead to January. What will be Inter’s biggest need in the winter transfer market?
Anthony: A very good question. Inter’s biggest need at the midway point of the season will be either bringing in a new striker who can add to the team’s goal tally or solidifying the defense. If I had to pick, I would bring in someone to better complement Lautaro.
David: The squad looks as deep as it’s been in recent memory so I’ll go with another top-end striker to support Lautaro. I think Thuram will put up solid numbers but I’m not sure he and Arnautovic are enough against the best of the best. Do I think that top-end striker will come, though? Definitely not.
Perhaps the most important question of all - how do you rate Inter’s newest set of kits?
Anthony: I’m a traditionalist, so seeing the home kit as black and blue and the away kit primarily white are big positives for me. While I prefer straight vertical lines on the home jersey, I like this new design. As for the away kit, I really like the diagonal black and blue stripe.
David: I love the away kit, it’s the perfect balance between clean and still clearly an Inter jersey. The home is alright, no more than a 6/10 but it’s grown on me some. The third hasn’t been released as of writing, but the reported orange base is a cool step outside the box.
And lastly, what are your expectations for the 2023/24 season across Serie A, Champions League, Coppa Italia, and Super Coppa?
Anthony: Top 4 finish in Serie A, but not sure where in the top 4 as all contenders have significant question marks (Napoli has a new coach; Milan has lots of new players (but is looking very good so far); Juventus still has Allegri and his poor judgments from last season; Lazio lost SMS and seem a bit off so far; Roma still has a lack of depth in some areas). I’m going to show my black and blue colors and say Inter will win the Scudetto, but it will be tough as Inzaghi is going to have to keep the team focused and hungry all season (something he has not been able to do yet).
David: The Scudetto has to be the goal. It’s the only Italian trophy Simone Inzaghi is lacking after two stellar seasons (and a contract renewal) and Inter has to get a second star before Milan. Another Coppa Italia or Super Coppa would be a nice bonus, but nothing more. As for the Champions League, a repeat of last season’s feats isn’t very realistic but progressing out of the group is the bare minimum.
For the Champions League, I see Inter advancing to the round of 16 and possibly up to the semifinals (depending on the draw). Domestically, I see Inter as the Coppa Italia and Super Coppa winner for the third straight year.
What are your thoughts on the new campaign, from new jerseys to summer signings? Let us know in the comments below.