Back in early May, the appointment of Walter Sabatini as Suning’s technical coordinator was met with a great deal of excitement from Inter fans across the globe.
People were intrigued by what Roma’s former sporting director could add to the Nerazzurri’s new-look Luciano Spalletti-led project. There were questions aplenty to be answered, both in the short and long-term.
Would his expertise aid the Milanese club’s rejuvenation? What profile of player would he seek to sign? Could he and Piero Ausilio work together efficiently for the good of Inter, or would they simply get in each other’s way? Now his first summer transfer window has been and gone, we are much better-placed to judge the 62-year-old’s work.
Despite overseeing several impressive signings in the last few months, many will deem Sabatini culpable for the club’s inability to bring certain players to San Siro – specifically Patrik Schick and Keita Baldé Diao, who ended up at Roma and Monaco respectively. The consensus among fans and media was that someone of their calibre was required to help raise Inter’s attacking potential up another notch.
It must be said, the negative coverage of Sabatini’s work was also conditioned by the fact his AC Milan counterpart Massimiliano Mirabelli took the football world by storm, signing the likes of Andrea Conti, Leonardo Bonucci, Franck Kessié and André Silva. Some critics were oblivious to the fact Inter remain hindered by their stringent Financial Fair Play agreement with UEFA. Others simply did not care – they just wanted to be splashing more cash than their city cousins.
Some top targets proved elusive but, with the additions of João Cancelo, Dalbert, Borja Valero and Matías Vecino, there is no denying Inter have significantly upgraded both the full-back and midfield departments. Milan Škriniar is also settling brilliantly in central defence under the tutelage of the vastly-experienced Miranda. Add those players to the existing quality at La Pinetina, and most will agree the coach has the nucleus of a competitive squad at his disposal.
Missing out on the likes of Schick will bring heavy scrutiny on Sabatini’s position, but it should not go unnoticed that he and his team did a lot of good work as well. Inter’s future definitely looks much brighter than it did towards the tail end of last season. A host of promising young talents have been snapped up with an eye on long-term prosperity. This bodes well, and hopefully signals an overall change in the club’s chronic short-term outlook.
After one of the window’s most protracted transfer sagas, Yann Karamoh eventually joined from Caen on an initial two-year loan deal with obligation to buy. Meanwhile, highly-rated striker Facundo Colidio (17) is set to arrive in January after an agreement was reached with Boca Juniors, while the capture of Atalanta centre-back Alessandro Bastoni (18) represents real long-term planning by the club.
However, Sabatini has been in football for a long time, and has worked at several big Italian clubs in different capacities. He knows how people’s minds work, and how important it is to stand up and be counted in moments of pressure. He is therefore only too well aware of how impatient the fans and journalists are.
Though some good deals were closed, there is little doubt most Interisti were left underwhelmed by the failure to sign a credible alternative to Mauro Icardi up top. Rightly or wrongly, for that the buck stops with Sabatini. While most observers appreciate how difficult it will be to sign top players in January, word has it that the Marsciano native already faces a fight to save his job next summer, let alone win a success-starved fan base over.