As the clock ticks down towards the end of yet another transfer window, it was today confirmed that Inter Milan had secured the services of Brazil’s next big thing, Gabriel Barbosa, from Santos for a fee believed to be around €25 million. Quite a summer for the 20 year-old, signing with the club on his 20th birthday after a summer in which he helped his nation secure a much-desired gold medal on home soil.
Barbosa’s arrival potentially brings to a close an extremely busy window for the Nerazzuri, one in which they have made some significant additions to their squad, most notably Joao Mario from Sporting Lisbon and Antonio Candreva from Serie A rivals Lazio for a combined total of around £42 million. With such heavy spending to bolster the attack, coupled with what could turn out to be some shrewd business elsewhere in the squad from new manager Frank De Boer, it appears the blue half of Milan could be ready to mount a serious challenge to an already dominant Juventus side this year. With the Bianconeri chasing a fifth consecutive title this season, a significant challenge from Inter could prove to freshen up the proceedings in Italy this season.
Of course, football in Milan has been experiencing one of it’s lowest ebbs in recent years. With rivals AC Milan failing to qualify for Europe for a number of seasons and the club in turmoil with a potential sale that has been protracted over an extended period, Inter have similarly failed to live up to past glories in recent times.
This year incredibly marked 6 years since current Man United chief Jose Mourinho ended his two-year association with the club by securing both the Serie A title and Champions League titles in 2010. In the years since, however, they have failed to secure another Scudetto and have made only two further appearances in the Champions League, failing to get beyond the quarter finals in either 2012 or 2014. To make matters worse, they’ve only managed to make the top 4 in Serie A twice since 2010, marking a distinct fall from grace for a club at which Wesley Sneijder managed to achieve a fourth place in the nominations for the 2010 Ballon D’Or. Given that he was only beaten out by Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi that year, it’s fair to say he’d have struggled to do much better.
New manager De Boer will be keen to halt the stagnation that has set in at the San Siro as quickly as possible. Despite their undoubtable allure, Inter will still no doubt see attaining the Dutchman as a major coup, given that he has been in demand across Europe for a number of years.
At 46 years of age, De Boer may be a young manager but he has a significant amount of experience under his belt. Starting out in charge of the famed Ajax Youth Academy side in 2007, he combined this with a role as assistant manager to Bert van Marwijk for the Dutch national side. He left that post in 2010, however, to take over the Ajax senior side. The club’s trust in a man who had never held a senior manager’s post previously was immediately repaid, with De Boer securing four consecutive Eredivisie titles between 2011 and 2014, to add to the 5 he won with the club during an 11-year spell as a player.
What’s clear with the appointment of De Boer and the heavy spending on much-sought-after talent is that Inter are looking to change the recent down-turn in fortunes that has beset them. The have a man in charge who has a proven track record as a winner, both as a player and manager, along with two of world football’s hottest young talents in Barbosa and Mario. Combine these factors with the talents of current players such as Miranda and Euro 2016 star Ivan Perisic, and there’s no doubt for me that Inter Milan will be back where they belong challenging for titles sooner rather than later.