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Inter Milan 2021-22 season preview - prediction, summer signings, star player

:Headline: Inter Milan 2021-22 season preview - prediction, summer signings, star player:
Sports Mole takes an in-depth look ahead to Inter Milan's 2021-22 campaign, including predictions, summer signings and their star player.
Sports Mole

After a tumultuous summer of change and uncertainty, now Inter Milan aim to mount a successful defence of their 19th Scudetto, under new management and without absent stars.

Perhaps the two key personalities behind the Nerazzurri's title triumph last term - after a decade of Juventus domination - were outspoken coach Antonio Conte and line-leading talisman Romelu Lukaku, who embodied his manager's spirit on the field of play. However, both have departed amid cost-cutting measures and talk of change at the top.

With the Milan giants heading into the new campaign amid a potential transfer of ownership and fears that more of their main men may depart, conditions are hardly set fair for new boss Simone Inzaghi, who joined from Lazio following Conte's abrupt exit, to make it back-to-back Scudetti in May.

Nonetheless, Inter still retain the bulk of a talented and experienced squad - and have made some interesting additions too - so Sports Mole now assesses their hopes of claiming a 20th Serie A title.


FIXTURES

Inter enjoy a relatively soft landing after their summer of acrimony and upheaval; hosting Genoa on the opening day, before meeting Verona, Sampdoria, Bologna and Fiorentina in their next four fixtures.

At the end of September, the defending champions will welcome Lombardy rivals Atalanta to San Siro for a serious test of their credentials, with Lazio and then main challengers Juventus among the fixtures during a challenging spell heading into the following month.

That first Derby d'Italia of the season sees Juve visit the second city on October 24, and Inter's first taste of that inimitably intense all-Milan affair will come around just a fortnight later, as they 'visit' AC Milan in the first Derby della Madonnina to feature fans for well over a year. Napoli and Roma are then tricky opponents in the build-up to the festive period, before the Nerazzurri close out the season's first half with a home game against Torino.

Between January 9 and February 13, it is possible that Inter's fate could effectively be decided, as they will play the return encounters with Lazio, Atalanta, Napoli and Milan (Feb 6) during an action-packed period.

Most likely their toughest trip of the domestic campaign then comes just before Easter, on April 3, as Simone Inzaghi leads his men towards Turin to resume hostilities with Juventus, before the season draws to a close at the end of May with a home game against Sampdoria.

> Click here to see all of Inter Milan's 2021-22 fixtures


SUMMER SIGNINGS

In

Zinho Vanheusden (£14.4m, Standard Liege)
Matteo Darmian (£2.2m, Parma)
Hakan Calhanoglu (free, AC Milan)
Alex Cordaz (free, Crotone)
Edin Dzeko (free, Roma)
Denzel Dumfries (£11.25m, PSV)

Out

Romelu Lukaku (£103.5m, Chelsea)
Achraf Hakimi (£54m, Paris St Germain)
Matteo Politano (£17.1m, Napoli)
Antonio Candreva (£2.25m, Sampdoria)
Rigoberto Rivas (£495,000, Reggina)
Marco Pompetti (loan, Pescara)
Daniele Padelli (free, Udinese)
Joao Mario (free, Benfica)
Radja Nainggolan (free, Royal Antwerp)
Ashley Young (free, Aston Villa)
Xian Emmers (free, Roda JC)
Darian Males (loan, FC Basel)
Dalbert (loan, Cagliari)
Niccolo Corrado (loan, Feralpisalo)
Davide Zugaro (loan, Virtus Verona)
Lorenzo Gavioli (loan, Reggina)
Sebastiano Esposito (loan, FC Basel)
Andreaw Gravillon (loan, Stade Reims)
Zinho Vanheusden (loan, Genoa)
Samuele Mulattieri (loan, Crotone)
Filip Stankovic (loan, FC Volendam)

Total spent to date: £27.85m
Total received to date: £175.35m

Net transfer balance: £147.5m


SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Samir Handanovic, Ionut Radu, Alex Cordaz, Gabriel Brazao

Defenders: Stefan de Vrij, Aleksandar Kolarov, Andrea Ranocchia, Federico Dimarco, Danilo D'Ambrosio, Matteo Darmian, Milan Skriniar, Alessandro Bastoni

Midfielders: Roberto Gagliardini, Matias Vecino, Stefano Sensi, Ivan Perisic, Valentino Lazaro, Hakan Calhanoglu, Lucien Agoume, Arturo Vidal, Nicolo Barella, Christian Eriksen, Marcelo Brozovic

Forwards: Alexis Sanchez, Edin Dzeko, Lautaro Martinez, Eddie Salcedo, Facundo Colidio, Andrea Pinamonti


STRONGEST XI


STAR PLAYER - Lautaro Martinez

Having enjoyed a stellar season, in which he helped Argentina to Copa America success just weeks after sealing his first Scudetto with Inter, Lautaro Martinez will find the 2020-21 campaign a tough act to follow.

Still only 23 years old, 'El Toro' managed just nine goals in his first season at San Siro but has thrived during the past two years; starring alongside Romelu Lukaku in Inter's feared 'Lu-La' forward pairing.

His dynamic performances for the Serie A side have inevitably drawn speculation about a potential big-money bid from England or Spain - particularly since Lukaku's departure seemed to signal that his club would embark on a fire sale of their most prized assets - but so far, he has remained loyal to the Nerazzurri.

Since making his senior debut in 2015 with Racing Club, where he spent four seasons before moving to Italy in 2018, Martinez has become a regular goalscorer - equally renowned for his dribbling ability as his penalty-box prowess.

Citing a fellow South American, Colombia's Radamel Falcao, as one of his major influences, the Inter number 10 has also drawn comparisons with none other than Sergio Aguero. His compatriot and former Inter striker Hernan Crespo is among those to make the link with the former Manchester City forward; highlighting Lautaro's intelligent link-up play, creativity and industrious nature - making him every manager's dream.

More than comfortable operating as a second striker, his combination with new partner Edin Dzeko this term should certainly be one to watch.


MANAGER - Simone Inzaghi

In the aftermath of the charismatic but controversial Antonio Conte's departure, Inter had no hesitation in turning to a man who many have compared favourably with the ex-Chelsea manager in the recent past.

Leading Lazio into the Champions League for the first time since 2007-08 - where the Biancocelesti managed to reach the last 16 - was perhaps the pinnacle of Simone Inzaghi's tenure at the Roman club, with his team's eye-catching displays enough to convince the Milanese giants to pounce.

Having now signed a two-year contract as Inter coach, the younger brother of former Milan striker Pippo Inzaghi - currently in charge at Brescia - also featured as a forward for clubs including Piacenza and Lazio during his playing career, before going on to make his mark in the Stadio Olimpico dugout.

Following more than a decade at Lazio - including roles within their primavera - Inzaghi junior took over the senior side in 2016 and later guided them to Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana success.

Much like Conte, he is closely associated with a 3-5-2 formation featuring raiding wing-backs and two mobile strikers, so is seen as a suitable continuity selection. With the personnel now at his command, though, Inzaghi will be aware that scrutiny at San Siro can be unbearably intense - and victory will be his only option.


LAST SEASON - 1st

Champions of Italy with four rounds of the season still remaining, Inter finally regained the Scudetto after a decade of longing - despite having trailed city rivals Milan at the halfway stage.

The Nerazzurri put an end to their 10-year trophy drought and the nine-year dominance of Juventus; in the process, overtaking Milan's tally of titles to become the second-most successful club in league history behind Juve.

Following a surprise 2-1 loss at Sampdoria in January, Antonio Conte's side embarked on an 18-game unbeaten run which included 14 wins - 11 of them in a row. Ultimately, a 3-0 defeat of faltering Milan established them as runaway leaders and they never looked back.

Characterised by Conte's trademark determination, Inter transformed themselves into a ruthless winning machine - certainly, it was not always pretty to watch - as a regular XI based on gritty defending and lethal counters through the irrepressible Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez brushed all others aside.

Only as spring turned to summer did the cracks start to appear, as financial difficulties meant an expensively assembled squad had to be trimmed down and their fiery head coach rode off into the sunset.


PREDICTION

After the rise must come a fall, as summertime asset-stripping has diminished Inter's playing staff and left more questions than answers about the club's immediate future.

Even if Simone Inzaghi's first year in charge sees an inevitably resurgent Juventus sweep past his new team in the league, the Nerazzurri can still finish 'best of the rest', as they seem to have recruited sensibly - bringing in Edin Dzeko to fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku's about-turn and Denzel Dumfries as an Achraf Hakimi replacement.

Last season's recovery from their early Champions League exit and a slow start in Serie A shows that this squad - many of whom have remained at San Siro - has the necessary fortitude to ride out issues arising from off-field matters. So, if Inzaghi can quickly establish his authority over an experienced bunch of pros, then Inter should challenge near the sharp end again.

VERDICT: 2nd
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Serie A Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Napoli1411213072335
2AC Milan14102230181232
3Inter Milan1494134151931
4Atalanta BCAtalanta1594232171531
5Roma148152415925
6Fiorentina158072420424
7Juventus157352016424
8Lazio146352525021
9Bologna146352024-421
10Hellas VeronaHellas Verona155552825320
11Empoli146172126-519
12SassuoloSassuolo145362221118
13Torino145271714317
14Udinese143651620-415
15Sampdoria154382129-815
16VeneziaVenezia154381225-1315
17SpeziaSpezia143291532-1711
18Genoa141761726-910
19CagliariCagliari151681629-139
20Salernitana1522111131-208
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Serie A Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Napoli1411213072335
2AC Milan14102230181232
3Inter Milan1494134151931
4Atalanta BCAtalanta1594232171531
5Roma148152415925
6Fiorentina158072420424
7Juventus157352016424
8Lazio146352525021
9Bologna146352024-421
10Hellas VeronaHellas Verona155552825320
11Empoli146172126-519
12SassuoloSassuolo145362221118
13Torino145271714317
14Udinese143651620-415
15Sampdoria154382129-815
16VeneziaVenezia154381225-1315
17SpeziaSpezia143291532-1711
18Genoa141761726-910
19CagliariCagliari151681629-139
20Salernitana1522111131-208
Scroll for more - Tap for full version
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