Inter Milan: Full Report Card for Every Position Entering New Season
Manager Walter Mazzarri has given his Inter Milan squad a major overhaul during pre-season, so here we will have a look at how the side stacks up in each position.
Overall, the Nerazzurri look to be a stronger unit than the one that finished fifth last season, though whether that is the case will only be revealed once their 2014-15 campaign is underway.
Here is our report card on how Inter are looking across the board ahead of the new campaign.
There are four goalkeepers on Inter's books, but the two who are in line to get the majority of the game time this season are Samir Handanovic and Juan Pablo Carrizo.
After spending five successful years with Udinese, Handanovic is now entering his third term with Inter, where he has continued to impress.
Athletic and calm under pressure, the Slovenian has become one of Serie A's most reliable stoppers, and he will start the season as Inter's No. 1.
As an added bonus, Carrizo showed some promising form in pre-season when given game time by Mazzarri. The Argentine has always been a talented 'keeper but has been let down by his attitude in the past.
If he has now reached a level of maturity that allows him to get the best out of his natural abilities, he will be a top shelf back-up for Handanovic and may even be given starts in the cup competitions.
Mazzarri favours a 3-5-2 system, which employs three centre-backs and two wing-backs, who patrol the flanks.
With the legendary Javier Zanetti now gone, there are several players in the squad who can fulfil the right-back role, though the most likely to start there is Jonathan.
The Brazilian is dependable and hard working down the right, even if he lacks the flair of some of the great players from his country in that position.
Danilo D'Ambrosio is the other player in the squad who most naturally suits the role of full-back and could end up being the coach's first choice. Like Jonathan, he is competent in the position but not quite world class.
There are others who could fill in at right-back if required, such as Hugo Campagnaro, who normally plays in central defence, and Gary Medel, who can also be utilised in midfield.
Overall, it is not Inter's strongest position, though Mazzarri at least has plenty of cover.
In Dodo and Yuto Nagatomo, Inter have two quality left-sided full-backs.
Both the Brazilian and the Japanese are attack-minded players, which is what is required from full-backs when a side plays with three centre-backs.
Dodo did not look completely settled following his move from Roma during pre-season, but even if he does not click with his new teammates straight away, Nagatomo is more than capable of fulfilling the role.
The only worry for Mazzarri is that he does not have any other natural left-backs to call on should his first two choices be unavailable.
The arrival of Nemanja Vidic has given Inter's defence a far more formidable look.
The former Manchester United captain may not have been at his best in his final season in the English Premier League, though a move to the slightly slower Serie A should revitalise his careers.
He is the type of defender who lifts those around him, which should benefit club captain Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus, both of whom are fine centre-backs in their own right but seem to play better when accompanied by an expert centre-back, such as Vidic.
Those three will likely form the starting rearguard, but there is currently an abundance of back-up central defenders should injury or suspension intervene.
Campagnaro, Marco Andreolli and Matias Silvestre are all solid central defenders, while youngsters Ibrahima Mbaye and Isaac Donkor offer further depth.
Reinforcements signed over the summer have given Inter's midfield an entirely new look.
Mazzarri's biggest challenge in the early part of the season may be finding the right balance and combination of players in the centre of the park.
Gary Medel, the Chilean pit bull, should prove a highly valuable enforcer and ball distributor at the base of midfield, while Yann M'Vila is another excellent addition who has the potential to be a first-team player for years to come.
Joel Obi and Rene Krhin are two more players who can fill the deep-lying role, with the latter another who shows huge promise.
There should be some competition for the creative-midfield spot or spots in Inter's starting line-up, with several players in the running.
Hernanes, Ricky Alvarez, Mateo Kovacic and Zdravko Kuzmanovic can all produce moments of brilliance, but perhaps no individual has done so often enough in an Inter shirt to stand out above the rest.
Fredy Guarin is another who can offer an attacking spark when he is in the right mood, though there are strong rumours, per Corriere dello Sport (via Teddy Cutler of The Independent), that he is set to leave the club before the transfer window closes.
The promise is there for the Nerazzurri, but it will be up to Mazzarri to get the most out of one or more of these players and make it work.
Inter have some definite class up front, but whether there is enough depth there remains to be seen.
Rodrigo Palacio was superb in 2013-14, netting 17 goals over the campaign, and there is a good chance he will lead the attack again.
Mauro Icardi is only 21 and appears to be improving rapidly, so much so that this could be the year in which he becomes a real star of Serie A.
A third Argentine, Ruben Botta, is commencing his second season in Italy. Now that he is settled in to life in Europe, he may be able to produce the goods more regularly, as he is undoubtedly a highly skilful second striker.
All in all, the Nerazzurri attack shows promise, but if Mazzarri doesn't bring in one or two more forwards, it could start to look very thin if injuries intervene at some point in the season.
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