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Inter Milan Youth System Players That Fit Erick Thohir's Vision

Adam DigbyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2014

Inter Milan Youth System Players That Fit Erick Thohir's Vision

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Since Jose Mourinho revolutionised the youth setup at Inter (explained in depth here on the excellent In Bed With Maradona website), the club has produced an incredible amount of talent. Famous names like Mario Balotelli and Philippe Coutinho grab the headlines, but the sheer depth of quality in the Nerazzurri youth system is something the club should be hugely proud of.

    New president Erick Thohir has stated his desire to see these players make the leap into the first team, telling the club’s official website that he wants to see it become “the best in the world.” With Inter needing to do a lot of work in order to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, using these players could be of huge benefit to the Nerazzurri.

    The following pages highlight five home-grown players who could help Walter Mazzarri improve the team’s recent poor results.

Francesco Bardi

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    The Italy Under-21’s goalkeeper kept Nicola Leali and Mattia Perin out of the Azzurrini starting line-up, his performances between the posts being a huge factor in the team finishing as runners-up in last summer’s European Championships.

    Part of a large group of Inter youngsters sent to newly promoted Livorno, Bardi has certainly gained plenty of practice from the experience. According to Fox Soccer, while he has managed three clean sheets, Bardi’s 65 saves are the fourth most of all players to have played at least 1800 minutes this term.

    Still only 22, he would be the ideal man to replace Samir Handanovic, who turns 30 before the end of the season. While the Slovenian clearly has a few years left, he could be sold to raise funds, and Bardi is a more than adequate substitute.

Cristiano Biraghi

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    Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

    Following the unrealised potential of first Davide Santon, then Marco Faraoni—and of course the sad story of Felice Natalino—Cristiano Biraghi is the latest full-back to emerge from the Inter production line.

    The 21-year-old is currently gaining his first Serie A experience on a co-ownership deal with Catania, making 12 starts for the Sicilian club with two further substitute appearances.

    Stats site WhoScored.com shows him averaging 1.7 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game, and he also notched an assist during a loss to Napoli when Lucas Castro converted his cross.

    The loan move was smart, as Rolando Maran has used him as a wing back, allowing Mazzarri to see how Biraghi could fit his own system, perhaps as the eventual replacement for Javier Zanetti.

Ibrahima Mbaye

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Another of the Livorno clique, Mbaye represented Inter in the Europa League last term. A favourite of former coach Andrea Stramaccioni, the Senegalese defender has shown great versatility for the Amaranto.

    Able to play on either flank, WhoScored.com shows he has averaged 2.7 tackles and 2.5 clearances per game in his 17 appearances this term.

    It could perhaps come to a choice between him and Biraghi as to who succeeds Zanetti in the Nerazzurri squad.

Joel Obi

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    Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

    The 22-year-old midfielder is perhaps the forgotten man of Inter’s incredible 2010. Obi has four major medals in his collection, including one for the 2010 Italian Super Cup, a match which he started for the Nerazzurri.

    He has already played 38 times for Inter, despite suffering a bad injury, and is now on loan at Parma. Fast and skillful, the Nigeria international has averaged 1.5 tackles and 0.9 interceptions over his career according to WhoScored.com.

    With some aging players in midfield, there could soon be space for him at the Giuseppe Meazza once again.

Samuele Longo

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    Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

    The 22-year-old is a hidden gem in the Nerazzurri fold, and the striker is perhaps the one player Inter fans would like to see back at their club above all others.

    Currently on loan at Hellas Verona, the stunning form of Luca Toni and Juan Iturbe has limited Longo to just two substitute appearances this term, but his displays on loan at Espanyol give much hope for the future.

    With the club linked to players like Mirko Vucinic, and with Mauro Icardi struggling, it is difficult to see why Inter don’t simply recall Longo, who could surely be an improvement.

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