Coming off of one of their worst campaigns in recent history, Inter will look to bounce back and reclaim some of their lost success in Serie A. Manager Roberto Mancini and Piero Ausilio used the summer transfer window wisely to build one of the most well-rounded squads (on paper) entering the 2015-16 campaign.
Completing the 2014-15 season as the first full year under Thohir’s ownership, Inter finished with 55 points in eighth place. It was a season of disappointment for interisti around the world, as their club haven’t finished in eighth place since the 1998-99 season. This also marks the first time since 1955 that both Milan clubs were not able to qualify for European Competition. Last season the nerazzurri only made it to the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia tournament and were knocked out of the round of sixteen during the Europa League.
Veterans such as Javier Zanetti were certainly missed in the line-up this year. With winter signings also not performing as anticipated, including Lukas Podolski and Xherdan Shaqiri, the squad simply lacked cohesion under Roberto Mancini’s second spell on the bench. The Milanese club was inconsistent and even a capocannoniere performance from Mauro Icardi wasn’t enough to give Inter results. So what did the nerazzurri do this summer to reinforce their squad to ensure UEFA competitions won’t be overlooked again this upcoming season?
Summer Transfers – Who’s in, who’s out
Inter have been one of the most proactive Italian squads during this summer mercato period. They were able to secure defenders Joao Miranda from Atletico Madrid and Martin Montoya from Barcelona, Stevan Jovetic from Manchester City and Geoffrey Kondogbia from Monaco.
Eyebrows were raised with the amount of spending Inter was conducting this summer and how it would inflect Financial Fair Play (FFP) implications. However, the structure of their signings – for example, Miranda arriving on a two-year loan with Inter paying 12.5M euros over two years certainly relieves FFP compliance on their annual budget.
Inter shredded some weight by selling Joel Obi to Torino, Ricardo Alvarez to Sunderland and offloading Shaqiri to Stoke City to offset their purchase price option from the winter. Holding onto players like Icardi is certainly a bonus for nerazzurri fans, but they were also able to loan out some of their promising stars this summer, including Francesco Bardi, in order to acquire important playing time in Italian top-flight football.
Looking ahead to 2015-16
While Inter finished in eighth place last season, they were only three points back from the final Europa League qualifying spot. Looking ahead on the fixture calendar, Mancini should aim to win the first five games to build confidence in his squad, especially in week 3 in the derby della madonnina versus city-rival Milan. With fixtures against Atalanta (Week 1), newly promoted Carpi (Week 2), Milan (Week 3), Chievo (Week 4) and Hellas Verona (Week 5), the nerazzurri have the opportunity to begin their season on a strong note.
With the reinforcements Inter have added this summer, Mancini has finally had a full pre-season to prepare his line-up rather than coming in mid-season like he did last year. He has experimented with a few different formations already over the course of Inter’s preseason appearances. We can mainly anticipate a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Jovetic and Icardi leading the attack.
Handanovic; Montoya, Murillo, Miranda, Santon; Kondogbia, Kovacic, Medel; Hernanes; Jovetic, Icardi
Mancini recently used a 4-4-2 formation against Milan in the TIM Trophy Tournament, where he used Kovacic and Hernanes on the wings. The former Manchester City coach used this formation while he managed there, a system that paid off to show dominance on the field with players including Silva, Aguero and Yaya Toure. Approaching the first week of Serie A, he will have to determine a system that best suits his players as Mancini’s 2015 Inter is much different from his 2012 squad with Manchester City. Considering that the nerazzurri did not have the best preseason record – suffering losses to Bayern Munich, Milan, Real Madrid, Sassuolo and Galatasaray – their tactical formation is a top priority to begin the Serie A season.
Key Player To Watch: Mauro Icardi
Interest should be excited that the joint-capocannoniere from last season will remain in Milan in the black and blue colors. Aside from Inter’s disappointing finish, the Argentine was exciting to watch and had some incredible goals to his name, tallying 27 goals in all competitions.
Being linked with moves to Real Madrid and Chelsea, fans can be happy their 22 year old striker is under contract until 2019, as he will be a large part of the development of the teams future. While still young, Icardi is showing he is developing into a powerhouse striker in Serie A and can be the main player to cause opposing defenders difficulty on the pitch. The addition of Jovetic to support as a number 10 should certainly help ring up Icardi’s goal tally in 2015-16. This season is an important one for the Argentine to have a stellar performance, as Mancini will heavily rely on his talent up front!
With 2014-15 in the rear-view mirror, Inter certainly have done their work in the off season and transfer window to anticipate much more positive results in 2015-16. If Mancini can nail down his tactical structure and have his starters remain healthy, a better season – and European Competition – could be in the near future.
Predicted League finish: 5th
Predicted Coppa Italia finish: Semi-Final