Inter Milan’s Chances Following a Summer of Change
Already, there have been a handful of surprises from Serie A this summer. Kostas Manolas has swapped AS Roma for Napoli, Gianluigi Buffon is set for a return to Juventus and both the Milan clubs confirmed plans to demolish the San Siro and build a new home in its place. A summer of change, you could say; change that once again expands to the touchline of Inter Milan. Antonio Conte has come in to replace the largely divisive, yet arguably successful, Luciano Spalletti. From contracting statements over maverick striker Mauro Icardi, a dismal European campaign in both the Champions League and Europa League to exiting the group stage in the former before a last-16 defeat to semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt in the latter.
Inter Milan’s Chances After a Summer of Change
Conte arrives in the blue half of Milan fresh from a year away. His acrimonious departure from Chelsea, one season after winning the Premier League title, hid no secrets. Clear and constant disagreements with the hierarchy over transfers and text messages to no-longer-needed players, it would be fair to argue Conte is a little bit of a gamble. Every so often, though, a gamble pays out big. Having won three consecutive Scudettos with Juventus from 2011-2014, it may be safe to avoid cashing out just yet.
As formidable as Juventus are, it’s unlikely that Inter will be able to keep enough consistency to mount a credible title challenge. When Conte took over Chelsea, he inherited a strong dressing room, one that rid of Jose Mourinho and finished tenth in the Premier League. At Chelsea, using a back four before the switch to the 3-5-2 that served Conte so well at both Juve and Italy, shows his bravery and wanting to adapt to new surroundings, with a back three still relatively unheard of in England. Wing-backs are essential to Conte’s counter-attacking football.
In Diego Godin, Stefan de Vrij, Cedric Soares and Kwadwo Asamoah, whom he will know well from their time at Juve, there are solid defensive options that are more than capable of performing to Conte’s needs. The Italian’s transformations of Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses when at Stamford Bridge can’t go unnoticed. Alonso’s transfer from Fiorentina back to the Premier League, after questionable spells at Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland, didn’t exactly get the Shed End overly excited, but Conte made them firm fan favourites. Charging up and down the left and right in support of inverted wingers is what worked wonders in his time in London. At Inter, Keita Baldé, Ivan Perisic and the exciting Lautaro Martinez will provide the foundations for Conte-ball.
Mauro Icardi is similar to Diego Costa. With his off the ball movement, eye for goal and predatory instincts only he’s not without his controversies. From letting Inter’s ultras know what he thinks, to skipping training and being stripped of the captaincy, Conte could be thinking the worst. With daily rumours of Romelu Lukaku heading to the San Siro on loan, would he improve Inter’s current state? Or would he even fit into Conte’s plans? It’s worth noting that both Alvaro Morata and Lukaku were on Conte’s radar in summer 2017, the former famously dying his hair red to push rumours of a move to Manchester United, so perhaps Lukaku is someone Conte’s feels is revivable. 113 Premier League goals at 26-years-old will hardly suggest of a footballer in need of a career-saving move. Yet, with the constant doom and gloom at Old Trafford, a fresh start could be just what both the Belgian and Conte need.
Inter Milan’s Chances Rest on Pre-Season
Inter Milan’s pre-season schedule consists of participation in the International Champions Cup, with 3/4 games across Asia. Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus will play the Nerazzurri in Singapore, Nanjing and Macau, before a final ICC fixture in London against Tottenham Hotspur. What Conte will learn from these fixtures could decide his first season. Expectation will be to finish in the top four, if not a challenge for the title. Even with it being nine years since Conte’s rival Jose Mourinho gave Inter their last Scudetto, the pressure to deliver increases year on year.
With the draw for the Champions League group stage not until August, it’s impossible to say exactly how far Inter should go, but the last-16 will be the minimum requirement. Sure, being in the same group as eventual semi-finalists Barcelona and runners-up Tottenham didn’t help, but Conte would have seen this as failing to cope with pressure, especially as qualification was in their hands. By the end of his three-year contract, we will see just exactly what Conte has achieved. For now, it’s exciting times ahead for the Black and Blues.