This is also the season that should establish the real value of Ranocchia, Coutinho and Obi. But the players who will decide Inter's fate are still the ones from the old guard - Julio Cesar, Maicon, Samuel, Lucio, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Sneijder, Milito.
A quick review of Inter's main signings and departures.
Giampiero Gasperini (Coach). The former Genoa's coach replaced Leonardo. A shrewd tactician, very competent, with gentle manners and very strong views. Since the very first day in charge he has been trying to reshape Inter to fit in his beloved 3-4-3 formation. His football knowledge is not questionable, quite more arguable his ability to motivate players of Inter calibre. He must be an instant hit otherwise he risks to be sacked earlier than Benitez.
Diego Forlan (Forward). Only one year ago the Uruguayan was arguably the best striker in Europe. The guy who needed 27 games to score his first goal for Manchester United, showed his real nature at Atletico Madrid. His goals led Colchoneros to win the Europa League and the Uefa Super Cup. Last season, despite the triumph in Copa America with the National team, Forlan wasn't as brilliant as the previous year. His scoring rate in the last three seasons is constantly downhill: 35 goals in 2008-09, 28 in 2009-10, 10 in 2010-11. At 32 he can be still lethal and very useful but the strong impression is that his best days are already behind him.
Mauro Zarate (Forward). Arrived on loan from Lazio, the 24-year Argentinian forward can play wide or as a lone striker. Zarate gives an extra-dimension to Inter's attacking options. At Lazio many fans adored him, many others labelled him as a troublemaker. He's certainly a natural goal-scorer, who has equal chances to become the biggest surprise or the most useless among the new recruits.
Ricardo Alvarez (Midfielder). A huge question mark lies over this 23-year mercurial Argentinian. Bought as a quality alternative to Wesley Sneijder, at the moment he looks still too shy to dictate the rhythm of play in Europe. Introduced as 'the new Ricky Kakà', he will have to do his best to avoid being remembered as 'a new Sebastián Rambert'.
Luc Castaignos (Forward). The 19-year Dutch is versatile enough to play anywhere in attack. He's supposed to gain experience in this first season at Inter, but his self confidence is so evident that you can bet he won't go unnoticed.
Jonathan (Fullback). Maicon's deputy needs to learn the trade very well before being picked in the starting eleven for important games.
Andrea Poli (Sampdoria). A very versatile midfielder. Good vision, great work rate. An underrated move that is likely to turn out genial.
Samuel Eto'o (Forward). Inter lost the best striker in the World. The Cameroon skipper said he didn't choose to go to Anzhi Makhachkala 'for money reasons but to try himself in a new exciting adventure'. Ridiculous words to hide the three-year contract for €20.5 million a season still shining in his eyes. Already one game one goal in Russia too.
Davide Santon (Fullback). Gasperini shared Mourinho, Benitez and Leonardo's views: the guy is lost and was probably overrated after his performance against Cristiano Ronaldo in an epic Champions League clash. Sold to Newcastle United.
Goran Pandev (Forward). He said no to Genoa but agreed enthusiastically to join Napoli, where he can recapture the form he showed with Lazio.
Marco Materazzi (Centreback). He left. The best thing done in the last three years. A huge thanks from Nerazzurri fans - not only for the memories.
Ricardo Álvarez (Vélez)
Yuto Nagatomo (Cesena)
Emiliano Viviano (Bologna)
Andrés Oña (Independiente)
Luc Castaignos (Feyenoord)
Diego Forlán (Atlético Madrid)
Andrea Poli (Sampdoria / ON LOAN)
Mauro Zárate (Lazio / ON LOAN)
Sebastian Carlsen (Helsingborg IF / back from loan)
Paolo Tornaghi (Como / back from loan)
Luca Caldirola (Vitesse / back from loan)
Davide Santon (Newcastle)
Samuel Eto'o (Anzhi)
Marko Livaja (Cesena)
Goran Pandev (Napoli)
David Suazo (Catania)
Gianluca Litteri (Ternana)
Nwankwo Obiora (Parma)
Victor Obinna (Lokomotiv Moscow)
McDonald Mariga (Real Sociedad / ON LOAN)
Andrea Mei (VVV-Venlo / ON LOAN)
Enrico Alfonso (Cremonese / ON LOAN)
Riccardo Bocalon (Cremonese / ON LOAN)
Giulio Donati (Padova / ON LOAN)
Alberto Gerbo (Gubbio / ON LOAN)
Michele Rigione (Cremonese / ON LOAN)
Antonio Esposito (Piacenza / ON LOAN)
Denis Alibec (KV Mechelen / ON LOAN)
Jacopo Fortunato (SPAL / ON LOAN)
Samuele Beretta (AC Cuneo 1905 / ON LOAN)
Luca Siligardi (AS Livorno)
Luca Tremolada (AC Pisa / ON LOAN)
Dennis Esposito (Calcio Lecco 1912 / ON LOAN)
Andrés Oña (Independiente / ON LOAN)
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