This weekend saw the start of the new Italian Serie A season and Inter started the campaign with a message of intent to their so called title rivals.
The 4-0 derby defeat of AC Milan proved Inter are firing on all cylinders already. Inter boss Jose Mourinho has made some really shrewd signings this summer and those players will only improve the his strong squad.
One of the key signings for Inter this summer is midfield Wesley Sneijder who they signed from La Liga big spenders Real Madrid. The Dutch international is the sort of player that Mourinho’s team have missed in previous seasons. The sort of player that not only gives you skill and vision but also works hard for the team.
I was really surprised that Real Madrid let him go, but as a big fan of the player I’m glad hes going to get the first team action his ability deserves, instead of warming the Real Madrid bench after the arrival of big money stars. He has also helped his national side Holland become the first European team to qualify for next years World Cup in South Africa.
Another excellent signing is Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o. The Special One must of asked somebody to pinch him when Barcelona bid Ã‚Â£40million plus the striker for the enigmatic Zlatan Imbrahimovic. Swedish striker Imbrahimovic seems to divide opinion amongst everybody. My opinion is not favourable on the former Ajax front man. Eto’o however could provide the goals that not only could win Serie A but could also help Inter progress further in the Champions League this season.
Mourinho has also recruited experienced defender Lucio from Bundesliga side Bayern Munich. The big centre-back brings a wealth of experience at both club and international level. He has won nearly every trophy in the game including the World Cup with Brazil. The one trophy that has eluded him so far is the Champions League crown and this season could provide him with that missing medal.
Striker Diego Milito and midfielder Thiago Motta have arrived from Genoa. Both players will be useful additions to the squad. Argentinian international Milito scored an impressive 24 goals in Serie A for Genoa last season. Brazilian midfielder Motta started his career of at Barcelona and has since played for Spanish La Liga side Atletico Madrid and is a midfielder anchorman.
Inter have also signed promising Brazilian striker Kerlon. The youngster who is famous for his ‘seal dribble’ moved to Serie A Chievo last summer from Brazilian side Cruzeiro, but struggled to adapt to his new environment due to injury problems, which restricted him to just three appearances. He will be hoping for better look at the Giuseppe Meazza this season.
Inter have also signed Austrian youngster Marko Arnautovic from FC Twente on a season-long loan with a view to a Ã‚Â£7million permanent deal. The striker scored 12 goals for Eredivisie side Twente last season. The striker is currently sidelined and won’t be available to play for at least two months.
Players moving on
Apart from the aforementioned sale of Ibrahimovic to Barcelona. Inter released experienced Argentinean Julio Cruz earlier in the summer and he decided to join Serie A rivals Lazio. The striker won’t be much of a loss as he has only played a bit-part role in recent seasons. Another Argentine Nicolas Burdisso has joined Roma on a season-long loan deal. The defender was allowed to leave due to the arrival of Lucio and was deemed surplus to requirements.
Veteran midfielder Luis Figo has retired from football and is expected to take up a non-playing position at the club. Chilean midfielder Luis Jimenez has moved to Premier League West Ham on a season-long loan deal. The playmaker failed to command a regular place in Jose Mourinho’s side last season and has decided to move on this summer.
Serie A title rivals
Inter have had little if any challenge for their title of Serie A champions in recent years. Their main challenge is expected to come from the usual teams city rivals AC Milan and Turin giants Juventus. Juventus look by far the better challengers for the Serie A title than the aging Milan side, as shown in that Derby day humiliation by Inter at the weekend. Milan have too many aging players and a coach that has no managerial experience in Leonardo.
Juve have lost influential Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved, who has retired from football. Although Juve still have a strong squad. They have strengthened their squad with the signing of Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo from Fiorentina for Ã‚Â£21.5million. They also have signed Italian international defender Fabio Cannavaro on a free transfer from big spending La Liga giants Real Madrid. The most important capture though has been the signing of Brazilian playmaker Diego from Bundesliga side Werder Bremen for Ã‚Â£21million. The young midfielder has already made a huge impression scoring twice on his debut at the weekend.
However Inter will still be strong enough to claim this season’s Serie A title. That’s nothing new, but I do expect a big improvement in their Champions League form this season. The signings of Sneijder and Eto’o will prove crucial as both players have extensive Champions League experience. Eto’o will be particularly important as he has won the competition twice while at Barca. With a bit of luck they could even reach the latter stages of the competition and I bet the Special One would be ever so modest about that achievement.