Having endured the ultimate humiliation of being dethroned by an arch-rival, Inter Milan took stock in the immediate aftermath of last season and have ultimately come out guns blazing this summer transfer window.
It was a mixed maiden campaign at the San Siro for Simone Inzaghi, who conceded Serie A’s fabled Scudetto to bitter Derby della Madonnina adversaries Milan, but he also oversaw the club’s first Coppa Italia triumph for over a decade and secured the Supercoppa Italiana at the expense of Juventus.
Despite those memorable feats, the Serie A title loss would have stung and left a bad taste in the collective mouths of the Curva Nord (Inter’s most vocal fans at the San Siro), particularly as the Nerazzurri missed out by just two points to Milan. It was a photo finish that ended with a whimper.
Not keen to dwell or pick over the bones of Inter’s title concession too much, Inzaghi has been quick to reinforce his squad this summer and bring in several fresh recruits as the club looks to rebuild and mount another serious title bid in 2022/23. They’ve made some huge signings already…
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Starting with the obvious one, it seemed almost inevitable that Romelu Lukaku would return to Inter from the minute he re-signed for Chelsea. It’s not that his heart was not it in at the Bridge, it’s just that he never looked comfortable playing the sort of hybrid false 9 role that Thomas Tuchel expects of his lone forwards. More of an explosive, direct centre-forward, Lukaku has returned to a playing environment that should accentuate his assets, not highlight his flaws.
He returns to the San Siro for a whopping £6.7m season-long loan deal, but hey, Inter can certainly afford the fee after they collected just shy of £100m for the Belgian last summer from Chelsea. Since reuniting with the Nerazzurri, Lukaku has admitted that is was a “mistake” to leave last summer, but the club’s ultras have already warned the Belgian that words will do little to rekindle their former relationship, instead he must re-earn their respect “on the field with humility and sweat”.
Fee: Free transfer
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has continued to enhance his CV by now adding Inter to a long line of prestigious clubs. Relocating from the Eternal City, where he recently lifted the inaugural Europa Conference League under Jose Mourinho, the 33-year-old Armenian will now be hoping to add further silverware to his mantelpiece at the San Siro. Mkhitaryan signs on a free transfer and becomes the club’s first Armenian player, while he has already started both pre-season matches for Inzaghi’s side, suggesting he will be a key figure next campaign.
An expected transfer, but a transfer nonetheless, Joaquin Correa completes his permanent switch to Inter after spending 2021/22 on loan from Lazio. The 17-capped Argentine featured extensively for the Nerazzurri last season, appearing 36 times overall, though he will certainly be hoping to improve upon his 12 Serie A starts, and with a goal to his name already this pre-season, he is off to a good start as a permanent Inter player.
Fee: Free transfer
Andre Onana’s much-publicised doping ban saw him suspended from action for 12 months (reduced to nine months on appeal). The 26-year-old returned to action for Ajax in February this year and has since penned terms with Inter to serve as Samir Handanovic’s long-term successor. Onana has signed a five-year deal at the San Siro and will be hoping to rediscover his best form between the sticks, famously rising to meteoric prominence as Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2018/19 under Erik ten Hag.
Kristjan Asllani enjoyed a breakthrough season at Empoli last term and he has subsequently joined Inter on an initial loan with an obligation to buy next summer for around £13m. The 20-year-old is a metronomic holding midfielder and scored the equalising goal for Inter in their first pre-season match against Monaco, a 2-2 stalemate at the Stadio Paolo Mazza last week.
“I spoke to the new guy Asllani, I like his mentality, he will surprise us. He’s only 20 but he speaks like a 27-year-old,” Lukaku recently stated. Sounds like the precocious midfielder has a maturity and composure that belies his tender years, two traits that should serve him well at a club that has homed some of the biggest characters the sport has ever witnessed.
Raoul Bellanova is unlikely to get a good reception in next season’s Derby della Madonnina as he has further twisted the knife on Milan fans. The 22-year-old is a product of the Rossoneri academy but rejected a professional contract with the club in 2019 and subsequently moved to Bordeaux. He has now joined arch-rivals Inter just to rub salt in the wounds. Having spent last season on loan at Cagliari, the Sardinian club triggered an option to make his move a permanent one, and Inter have since come forward with a similar proposal, taking him on a temporary basis in 2022/23, with the option to sign him next summer.
Fee: Undisclosed fee
Robin Gosens joined Inter on loan in January with an option to buy, and of course the club have exercised that clause. An attack-minded full-back, the 28-year-old German saw his time at the San Siro in the second half of last season plagued by injury problems as he made just seven appearances off the bench, but he has already started both pre-season games this summer and will be hoping for a prolonged spell in the starting XI across 2022/23.