“Life beyond Cristiano Ronaldo is out there”, Italy’s Corriere dello Sport declared. It’s a headline that’s easy enough to print, of course, but in reality, many questioned whether such a scenario was plausible.
Ever since Juventus completed the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid, a move which has been regarded as “the signing of the Century”, the news cycle has been dominated by the Portuguese star and the way his move would impact the Old Lady, to the extent that it would seem the Turin-based side have already secured an eighth-consecutive Scudetto without a ball having been kicked.
Nevertheless, heading into the new season off the back of a highly competitive 2017-18 in which a seemingly reinvigorated Serie A became the only one out of Europe’s top five leagues which did not turn into a one-horse race, there is renewed hope amongst a number of Italy’s giants that there is indeed life beyond Ronaldo, perhaps even more pertinently, life beyond the Bianconeri.
Inter are one such club.
It wasn’t too long ago that pundits and fans alike lamented the decline of Italian football where it was regarded, for much of the late 1900s anyway, as one of the strongest leagues in the world. Now though, Italy’s top-tier is known for its incapacity to attract world-class talents and its inability of clubs, as well as the league as a whole, to compete financially with heavyweights in England and France.
To put things into perspective, in 2011, the Nerazzurri were ranked in eighth place in the Deloitte Rich List. Recently, they were classified in 19th place having experienced a 27% downturn in overall revenue between the years 2010 and 2016.
On the other hand, whilst Manchester United increased its commercial revenue by 234% over the same period, Inter experienced a 4% growth of commercial revenue.
However, Suning’s investment since assuming control of the club back in 2016 has seen the club’s year-on-year losses greatly reduced, with predictions that Inter’s turnover will exceed €300m in the coming budget. Overall, with the club valued at €389m, the San Siro side are the 13th most valuable club overall, two places behind reigning Serie A champions Juventus.
The upturn in the club’s finances has translated into an ambitious, and ultimately fruitful, transfer market. The Milanese side pulled off one of the biggest coups this summer in signing Roma’s midfield maestro Radja Nainggolan for €38m, as well as acquiring Lautaro Martinez from Racing Club for €23m. The arrival of Kwawdo Asamoah, Stefan de Vrij and Sime Vrsaljko will help reinforce a side which conceded 30 goals last season, the most of the top four teams.
Meanwhile, the experience gained from last season, including their successful qualification for the Champions League this season, will be a significant boost with the Nerazzurri hopeful of competing on multiple fronts. The additional depth in the squad now following a busy transfer market would certainly aid Coach Luciano Spalletti in chasing an elusive Scudetto.
For much of last season, Spalletti stuck with his 4-2-3-1 formation, but with the personnel available, we could potentially see experimentation with a 3-4-2-1 system with new recruits Nainggolan and Martinez teaming up behind captain Mauro Icardi in attack.
Whilst there is a possibility that the club could become complacent following an ambitious summer transfer window as a result of the club’s improving financial state, Inter’s supporters can be proud of the progress that has been achieved. There is still work to be done on the pitch, of course, but Inter finally have the resources to bridge the gap and be considered title contenders.