Should Inter Seek Another Cost-Effective Piece to Solidify Title Bid?
Never has a team so dedicated to claiming its league’s title been so quick to uproot just about everything that made an eventual trophy-winning team possible. Of course, this wasn’t down to the players or the squad of Inter Milan, with Suning Holdings Group finding the due date on its copious loans coming due very soon.
Needing €340 million by December 2022, Inter allowed Serie A-winning boss Antonio Conte to quit – after he heard the news that €120 million worth of the team had to be sold after claiming the title.
With his departure, Romelu Lukaku was sold to satisfy that amount, but so too were Achraf Hakimi (€64 million), Matteo Politano (€20 million), and Antonio Candreva (€2.7 million), while eight other players – including Ashley Young and Radja Nainggolan were released. With these alone, about €200 million came in.
Despite all of this, an almost unrecognisable team is certainly in the fight for Serie A in the 2021/22 season, but are reinforcements needed to truly make the reigning champions contenders once more?
Savvy reinforcements helping the battle in wide-open Serie A
To rebuild the squad, new manager Simone Inzaghi was brought in and given nearly €40 million to play with, as well as backing in the free agency. Inter paid to bring in centre back Zinho Vanheusden, Denzel Dumfries, and Matteo Darmian permanently, Joaquín Correa on-loan, and then Alex Cordaz, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, and Edin Džeko for free.
With the exception of Paris Saint-Germain, Inter likely had the best summer of incomings of any elite European club. Prior to coming in, the new recruits didn’t look to measure up to the departed players, and yet, the Nerazzurri started better this season than last season with 17 points in seven games – a five-point improvement on 2020/21.
Still, it’s not just Inter who are looking to capitalise on the Serie A top spot that they themselves broken wide open last season. Helmed once again by Massimiliano Allegri, bigger things were expected of Juventus, but the rebuild job is proving to be far greater than expected. Meanwhile, SSC Napoli are flying high thanks to their rock-solid defence and Victor Osimhen enjoying a proper breakout campaign, and AC Milan also look confident in their ability to go toe-to-toe with the best in Italian football.
Preference leans to Inter, so are reinforcements needed?
Even with others around them doing well – and the constant possibility that someone will awaken the sleeping giant in Turin – it’s still Inter that gets the nod from the respected experts. Drawing from the odds of the top betting sites, Inter are favoured at 2/1 to win Serie A outright. Just behind are Napoli at 11/4, Juventus at 7/2, and AC Milan at 5/1. So, as you can see, the race is still wide open. Of course, we also have to take the whole season ahead into considerations, accounting for potential future moves such as new signings as well as team experience.
Inter have been solid across the field, even when considering the teething pains that’ll come with such a tremendous amount of team turnover. Still, if one position could be pointed to as the weak spot, it’d be the centre back role between Milan Škriniar and Stefan de Vrij.
To fill this in a cost-effective way, Nerazzurri should target those with expiring contracts to snag them early for a cut price. The leading names in this regard would be Antonio Rüdiger, Niklas Süle, Matthias Ginter, Luiz Felipe, and Jason Denayer, who all have several years left but could leave their clubs for free in the summer.
The experts are backing Inter to repeat as champions, but just to really solidify their claim, it’d be wise to work the January market for a cut-price but top-class centre back who could man the backline for several seasons to come.