Ah, Inter Milan. The Beneamata or Nerazzurri. A club founded in a wave of protest because, hey, football is universal and everybody should be allowed to kick a ball on a grass field in front of 60 000 fans while earning fat pay checks!
Inter saw life back in 1908. Some members of the Milan Cricket and Football Club (the current AC Milan) didn’t agree with the club’s policy to deny foreigner players to be part of the team… AC Milan, which was ironically founded by English immigrants a couple of years before that.
Anyways, those same members split from Milan and gave birth to Internazionale to give foreigners also a fighting chance. A more ‘international’ side. Ok, so that explains the name. Glad we’ve cleared that up!
Since 2005 Inter has been the sort of Antichrist to Roma’s Holy Team of Apostles. We had the Calciopoli battles in Serie A after Juve was relegated and the various Coppa Italia clashes between both teams. Inter - Roma was the Coppa final for four consecutive times between 2005 and 2008. In 2010 there was a fifth confrontation in six editions of the Coppa.
Simply put: Apart from Roma and Inter, there was no team in Italy that had any significant importance. Juve and Napoli just crawled out of the dungeon called Serie B, Lazio was doing what they do best (struggling for Europe) and Milan had to wait until 2011 to retain the Scudetto under Allegri. Mourinho and Mancini made a machine out of Inter while Spalletti’s Roma those days was one of the most attractive sides in Europe with some beautiful footy.
Hey, speaking of Luciano…
Yup, he’s at Inter now. Funny how things change. The man that made world beaters out of Tonetto, Perrotta, Taddei and Vucinic, is now pulling the strings at the black and blue side of Milan. Two rather succesful stints at Roma albeit with an ugly ending. Roman fans have a love/hate relationship with Luciano. Many (including me) are grateful for his two tenures, after all he was the man who gave Roma its last trophy.
But the way he parted from Rome, and the whole cinema with Totti, was just nasty. The romance was clearly gone and it was best for both parties (Luciano and Roma) he quit. However, not even two weeks after he left the Eternal City, he joined Inter. Well, uhm, that was quick. No time to heal the wounds, just rub some salt in it while you’re at it. It’s like breaking up with a nice girl after the umpteenth quarrel, only to see her conquer one of your rivals the very next day, like a shiny new toy. Painful…
Fast forward to August 2018 and here we are, in Spalletti’s second season at Inter. His first one, ‘17-’18, was a typical Spalletti rollercoaster as we know it. Inter started out guns blazing, winning seven of their first eight games, remaining unbeaten in Serie A until Udinese in mid December.
After that, the misery began and Inter slipped from first to fifth place. Only on the last matchday against Lazio, a do or die fixture, they could secure fourth and thus CL football. Not exactly the plan back in September 2017. Once again Juve was miles ahead and even Napoli was way out of their reach. However, AS Roma ‘only’ finished five points ahead of them and will be the next victim of Inter.
It looks like a new rivalry will begin between Inter and Roma. At least for a top 4 spot. But they’re not alone. Napoli hasn’t lost any particular big names bar Jorginho (but got Ruiz), while Milan finally wants to rejoin the big boys. Gattusso already injected some spirit and balls to the team and they seem a more dangerous side than last season, mainly due to Higuain.
And oh well, ok let’s include Lazio too, who narrowly missed CL. Fiorentina’s frontline looks sick and Torino/Sampdoria are always hazardous encounters.
So, who did Inter buy this Summer to leap over Roma?
First up, a freebie from Lazio: 26-year-old CB De Vrij. A commanding presence and stalwart for the Laziale, scoring 6 (!) goals last season. A lethal weapon (great tv series btw!) on corners and a regular for the Dutch NT. Not a bad deal at all from Inter and he’ll form a sturdy combo with Skriniar in the heart of the defence. Dzeko and Schick better be on their guard or it could be a frustrating evening against those two towers.
Another new face in defence is Vrsjj. Vraschj… Vraskjl…. Vrsnilk, oh damn. Well, copy past I guess: Vrsaljko! A rightback who comes on loan from Atletico Madrid. I saw him a couple of times at the latest World Cup and he was quite impressive, reaching the final with Croatia. Plenty of stamina and grinta. That said, he’s not in the same class as
Bruno Peres Maicon or Dani Alves. Atletico didn’t play hard ball during negotiations and Sime wasn’t a sure starter for them. That says something. He’s decent, nothing more, nothing less. I think Karsdorp has a bigger future ahead.
A second freebie this time: Asamoah, he arrives from Juve. To be fair, I don’t know what the hell he is. A wingback? A rightback? Leftback? Midfielder? Winger? He’s versatile as fuck, kinda like Florenzi. He could be a key cog in Spalletti’s well-oiled machine. He has tons of Serie A experience and six league titles in the bag and Luciano loves players like him, so he’ll use him often and in various roles. Another good deal and without any costs.
Up front there are two main additions. On the wings there’s Politano, a former Roma youth product and Di Francesco prodigy. Both Roma and Inter were after him for a while, but Inter got the upper hand. Roma and Monchi on the other hand, are still searching the market for a winger.
Politano’s no Ronaldo or Robben, but he’s solid, gets the job done and is entering his prime. He can be un upgrade for this Inter. Question is: Can he repeat his ‘17-’18 trick (ten goals) at a big club? His former clubs are Perugia, Pescara and Sassuolo, not exactly good references, but we all know that Spalletti can get the best out of certain players. Politano could be one of them. Also, his 4-2-3-1 suits Matteo. We’ll know soon enough if this transfer comes back to haunt Monchi. Truth to told, I see more potential in Kluivert and Ünder.
Inter also bought a ‘new Icardi’: Lautaro Martinez. Hailed as one of the brightest prospects of Argentina and a deadly goal machine. He already scored 27 goals in about 60 games in Argentina’s top division, as a teenager. That’s no small feat. He already received two call-ups for the NT as well. This kid seems special and at Inter he’ll get to learn from guys like Icardi, Candreva and Perisic. Watch out for this one as he looks like Inter’s answer to Schick.
So that’s that, all of Inter’s transf….. What? Is there something wrong? Am I missing someone? Really? Oh, right, yeah. That guy. Well, if you insist…
Nainggolan. Il Ninja.
Where do I begin? I recall being quite enthusiastic and excited when Radja arrived in 2014, my fellow compatriot. Finally a Belgian in Rome. And what a career he has made. One of the most colorful (quite literally) persons that wore the shirt and loved by many. Until something snapped last season. Drunk driving, partying, smoking... Radja enjoys life like many of us, but sometimes forget there’s always a camera pointed right at him.
The suits were worried about this and decided to sell Radja. Not to Chelsea, Man United or PSG. No, to Inter of all teams, where he will be reunited with Spalletti, of all coaches. No need to look further than season 2016-2017 to know this will come back to bite Roma in the ass. For the record: 11 goals as a midfielder, his best tally ever and Italy’s best midfielder.
Ok, so Radja’s on the wrong side of 30 but he can still give Inter at least two stellar seasons, surely in Spalletti’s system. He’ll start in every game if he’s fit, he’s not finished yet. Let’s just hope for Roma’s sake he’ll take is easy when he meets his old friends at Roma. IMO the best deal of Inter this Summer, mostly because Roma got an average Santon and inexperienced Zaniolo in return.
As far as predictions go, it’s nearly impossible to tell where this Inter will end up. Anything can happen with Spalletti at the helm and guys like Radja, Icardi and Perisic. They can finally break the Juve dominance or they can finish sixth for all I know. They could be a very fearsome side but they could also prove to be mentally unstable and implode after the slightest setback.
Inter got enough firepower up front, hard as nails defenders and warriors in midfield. A nice mix for Luciano’s spicy 4-2-3-1 cocktail. After this Summer the Tuscan got all the major pieces he wanted from his management (Radja, De Vrij, Politano, …) so he must at least reach top four again, or do better. And I’m forgetting Modric as well. If Inter somehow snatch him away from Real, then the Beneamata simply have to aim for the Scudetto.
If everything clicks, don’t be surprised to see Inter at the top of the table come March. Hopefully for us Roma will be close by.
Best Inter transfer so far?
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Copy/paste Croatian rightback