Inter director Piero Ausilio was calm and matter of fact when talking about the transfer window. Speaking to SportItalia he discussed potential targets, players he wanted to keep hold of and those of whom he did not know. In fact, the Nerazzurri’s initial moves have looked positive, but there are financial restrictions that still hold them back, despite their dramatic late qualification to the Champions League. The hope is that they can seriously strengthen the squad, but they will have to be shrewd in the way they invest.
The Nerazzurri were certainly not slow in when looking for extra bodies to help take them to the next level in the 2018-19 campaign. The season wasn’t over and already they had signed Stefan de Vrij from Lazio on a free transfer. The centre-back controversially played in the crunch game on the final day of the campaign and conceded a penalty which ultimately saw Inter qualify for Europe. Inter should be credited for picking up this talented defender as a free agent, as he will only add quality to their back line. Kwadwo Asamoah also signed on a free transfer from Juventus and the 29-year-old full back will be a useful inclusion in a problem position for the club.
Lautaro Martinez was the jewel of the window. The 20-year-old striker was one of the worst kept secrets, yet he eventually joined Inter and was handed the Number 10 shirt, so much is thought of him. After a superb season at Racing Club in Argentina, the youngster will be looking to partner Mauro Icardi next campaign. The warning signs are however, that Inter may put too much hope in him as they did with Gabriel Barbosa and he may crumble in the same manner. Speaking of ‘Gabigol’, the Brazilian has been in fine form for Santos after a disastrous time on loan at Benfica. Now he is looking forward to returning to Inter and (if he can find his form) could offer an almost accidental trident of Gabriel Barbosa, Icardi and Martinez which would be incredibly potent.
To have any partnership or trio as mentioned above means keeping hold of Mauro Icardi and it seems that Inter are intent on doing this. The club are preparing to sit down with him and extend his deal, adding a release clause that will exceed the current value of €110m. Ausilio made it clear that his Argentine hit man would be going nowhere and at the same time mentioned that neither would Joao Miranda or Samir Handanovic.
Whilst Inter’s director could happily claim that some core elements of his squad were staying, he could not say the same for loan players Rafinha and Joao Cancelo. He stated that all they had was ‘hope’ and that they were working on this. The issue is that each player will cost in the region of €40m and they have interest from elsewhere, especially Cancelo, who has been tracked by Juventus and surprisingly Wolverhampton Wanderers. West Ham, meanwhile, are tracking Rafinha.
With Inter’s early acquisitions and their determination to hold on to key players, these loan deals being made permanent would be the icing on the cake, as both players performed well and grew into the season.
Rafinha had certainly given Inter extra creativity in the second half of the campaign and was the nearest thing to a ‘trequartista’ that Luciano Spalletti could find. He was able to link all of the key elements of the team’s attacking talent and for once made Icardi look less isolated. Cancelo too was a real strength at full-back being a danger in attack and could also deliver in good crosses from that position, something Inter have lacked.
Perhaps the sale of a player like Joao Mario may allow Inter to tie down one of these players, if not both. There is no fear that failing to do so would ruin their transfer window, but the fact of the matter is that these two players are already bedded in at the club and Spalletti knows what they offer.
They could build on solid foundations and then hope that other elements to the squad will enhance rather than replace. The Nerazzurri can look forward with confidence, but they need to do all they can to secure these key assets.