Easily the most talked about team of the Summer Transfer Window, Inter Milan has finally completed their goal of adding strength and depth to the squad with a flurry of late signings. Despite the arrivals, many question marks surround this team and newly appointed coach Gian Piero Gasperini is faced with the task of replacing a key figure (Eto'o) and getting the most out of the team given to him by Inter supremo, Massimo Moratti. Let's take a look at the players brought in to strengthen the team and assess their ability to contribute to the Club World Champions.
Luc in full stride
The 18-year-old Dutch striker, dubbed the "Next Thierry Henry" by many, arrived at Inter from Feyenoord in a €3 million deal and has the ability to play on either wing, as well as a central striker. His versatility will prove to be crucial to Gasperini's ever changing set up, and although initially thought to be lacking enough experience to compete for a first team spot, Castaignos excelled in preseason and his exceptional form allowed Inter to sacrifice Goran Pandev without first knowing whether a replacement could be attained. His technical ability is excellent, and with an overall game that seems to suit the Serie A, he is seen as one of the top prospects coming out of Holland. He is only lacking in experience, and a year learning from Sneijder, Milito and Pazzini will allow him to become a more well-rounded player. Adding youth to an aging squad, Inter made the right choice to hold onto the player and will reap the rewards when Milito's aging legs need a break, which will give Castaignos the chance to shine.
Ricardo in action
Citing a love for the club that started with his father and a desire to be part of the Argentine set-up within the squad, "Ricky Wonderful" made his way to Inter on an €11.75 million deal from Velez Sarsfield, after originally having been linked with a move to Arsenal. The left-footed play maker adds a dimension of versatility to the attack and can play on either wing or behind the central striker. His dribbling ability as well as a ferocious left-footed shot are his best attributes, but he has found himself criticized for his inconsistency and lack of physical strength. Many wondered why Inter paid a tremendous amount for a player who had just completed his first season in the Argentine Apertura at 23 years old, but Ricky impressed Gasperini in the preseason, and is considered a contender for a starting berth come the first league game.
TIM Cup versus Juventus
Versatility seems to be a theme with Inter's signings, and Jonathan is no exception. Having arrived from Santos on a €5 million deal, Jonathan can play in a four man defense as the right back, as well as in Gasperini's 3-4-3 as the right sided midfielder. Seen as the heir to Maicon, Jonathan possesses the natural ability to run at opposing defenders and cause havoc; the same attribute that that made Maicon a star in Italy. His aggression and physicality allow him to deal with the pace of Serie A's best wingers on the defensive side of the ball. At 24 years old, he is yet another young player added to the aging squad and is a great option to give Maicon the rest to keep him fresh and devastating.
Andrea with the national team
Having been previously targeted by AC Milan and Manchester City, expectations for Poli have been high and in an effort to continue his development, Inter snatched him up from Sampdoria in Serie B on a loan deal worth an initial €1 million, with a right to purchase set at €6 million. The 21-year-old Italian adds youth to an older midfield, as well as a home-grown option to a club often criticized for their wealth of foreign talent. His attributes as a hard-working midfielder with exceptional vision, passing and technique have seen him compared to Andrea Pirlo. Although his inexperience could be detrimental to a team with Title winning ambitions, there is no doubt that Inter has their hands on one of Italy's brightest talents.
The superb 32-year-old Uruguayan captain has made his way to Inter on a €5 million deal from Atletico Madrid. The player is at his best when playing alongside a crafty forward (Suarez, Aquero) and promises to give everything he can for Inter. He brings leadership to an attack that lost its talisman in Samuel Eto'o, as well as being a danger from set pieces. His arrival also made sense financially; Inter was able to keep their stability and still acquire quality. Despite his phenomenal career and multiple achievements, Forlan is facing many challenges this upcoming season. Critics have pointed toward a decline due to his age, and he will also have to deal with the expectations that come with replacing an icon in Samuel Eto'o. Despite these hindrances, I believe Forlan is a great signing for Inter's attack that will provide vigor and hunger, as these years with Inter are likely to be his last with a great club capable of competing for major hardware.
Zarate in his final days with Lazio
Inter's final signing of the window is clearly the one with most cause for debate. The talent that the 24-year-old Argentine possesses is undeniable, and Inter was able to secure a loan deal for €2.6 million with the option to buy set at €15.5 million from Lazio. The skillful forward can play on either wing or as a second striker, and his versatility is an obvious attribute that Gasperini will use in his system. His ability to get past his man is what sets him apart from other players and has shown at times that his brilliance is world-class. The criticisms against him have to do with his mentality; inconsistency and attitude problems have stopped him from reaching the top of his game. In his most recent season with Lazio, it seemed as if he lost the desire to play for them, and the move to Inter may rekindle his passion and motivation. If he is able to find comfort with Inter and their Argentine set-up, we could witness a star in action.
The Dutch Playmaker
For me, keeping Wesley Sneijder at Inter is as good, if not better, than any acquisition the club could have made. Inter had many reasons to hold onto the 27-year-old Dutch footballer, and almost no reason to sell him. Financially, Inter cleared about €90 million off their books over the next three years with the sale of Samuel Eto'o (€60 million plus in wages and €28 million transfer fee), and Sneijder was no longer needed as a way to generate money.Tactically, during each preseason game that Sneijder featured in, he was their best player and Gasperini had found a way to fit him into his set-up. The facts are that Sneijder is a play maker entering his prime years, and his experience, natural ability and leadership are priceless. An Inter squad without Sneijder is an Inter squad without direction.
Gian Piero Gasperini
Inter was also able to sign youngsters Lorenzo Tassi (dubbed the "Future Baggio") and Rodrigo Alborno, for the Primavera team, as well as sign Yuto Nagatomo on a permanent deal. I thought Inter made the right decisions with their signings and had an overall positive transfer window. Any questions or comments are appreciated and you can follow me on Twitter at @FCInterBlogGFT !