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Inter Milan 2021-22 season review: Nerazzurri desperately close to domestic treble

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3rd June, 2022

Although Inter were able to claim both the Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia (winning both titles against Juventus), they ultimately lost out on defending their Serie A crown finishing two points off in second place behind city rivals AC Milan – a dramatic title race that was decided on the final day of the season.

It was a gut-wrenching way for Inter’s league campaign to come to an end when you consider the fact they were very close to capturing a domestic treble. The tears that were shed from some of the Inter players after the fulltime whistle in their final match of the season against Sampdoria was a pretty accurate representation of how everyone associated with the club felt.

Despite Milan definitely deserving their plaudits for ending their 11-year drought to win the Scudetto, I feel the narrative moreso shifted towards Inter failing to deliver at crucial moments during the season – perhaps a controversial take. Nevertheless, there was a lot that played out during the course of the season, but Inter had some huge changes even before a ball was kicked.

The departures of title-winning manager Antonio Conte and star striker Romelu Lukaku came as a shock and it was far from what the club were expecting, having just won the league last May. This was only amplified when you also factor in the loss of fullback Achraf Hakimi to PSG. Those who knew the financial situation of the club during that time know that Inter had to sell some players so it was not like they had much of a choice.

The biggest positive for the team was that they were able to keep a large part of their nucleus, and they made some very valuable additions in striker Edin Džeko from Roma to replace Lukaku, midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu from AC Milan, and fullback Denzel Dumfries from Dutch outfit PSV. All three players proved great fits in Inter’s system that has worked very well for the past three years.

Dumfries notched five goals, the Bosnian striker scored 13 league goals to go alongside striker partner Lautaro Martínez’s 21 strikes, and Çalhanoğlu was fantastic in the midfield by scoring seven goals and providing 12 assists – three fantastic signings (the first two players mentioned were picked up on free transfers) who adapted greatly.

(Photo by Mattia Ozbot – Inter/Inter via Getty Images)

Another impactful personality was new manager Simone Inzaghi. The Italian manager left Lazio after Conte departed and did a phenomenal job in his first season in charge. He kept Inter’s formation of 3-5-2, which had worked so well under Conte, but implemented his own style to the way Inter played and it was refreshing to witness.


Beyond his successes domestically, the 46-year-old managed to get Inter into the Round of 16 in the Champions League – something Conte could not accomplish in his two-year tenure. His efforts rewarded him claiming trophies Inter were not able to acquire for a long time and this will give him and the squad increased confidence that they can continue collecting silverware next season and beyond.

As mentioned earlier, a huge positive was that the blue half of Milan were able to keep a large part of their starting squad – impressive when you consider the previously stated departures that then casted some doubts for what the team could achieve. Inter were able to keep eight of their starters who helped lead them to the title in 2020-21 and all of them backed that up by having good seasons.

Special mentions must go to Martínez (highest goal tally of his career in Serie A), Nicolò Barella (like Çalhanoğlu, provided 12 assists), Marcelo Brozović (Serie A midfield MVP), and the recently departed Ivan Perišić (seven goals and eight assists as a wing-back) who was arguably Inter’s player of the season.

The Croatian international will prove to be a huge loss after he recently signed with English side Tottenham on a free transfer to reunite with his old boss. There will be pressure placed firmly on the shoulders of January signing Robin Gosens, who was not able to get much playing time, courtesy of the 33-year-old’s dazzling form down the left.

When I reflect on moments that hurt the Nerazzurri this season, I look at two key results that I believe cost them the title.

The first came against the eventual champions Milan back in February, who produced two goals in the space of three second-half minutes from French striker Olivier Giroud to claim the Rossoneri a vital 2-1 victory at San Siro. Inter were the better side in that game, having produced a 1-0 lead going into halftime, but that crucial lapse in concentration in the latter part of the game shot them in the foot massively.

The second and most crucial result was Inter’s 2-1 loss in their catch-up match against Bologna a few months later in April. Reserve goalkeeper Ionut Radu served up a huge error in the contest that hurt Inter’s title bid. It was rather simple: if Inter had won, they would have gone top of the table by one point at such a crucial part of the concluding season.


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Even though Inzaghi’s men managed to take the lead like they did in the Milan derby, they ended up leaving empty-handed and that saw Milan avoid any slippages to end up as eventual champions of Italy. People may also point to the fact Inter were unable to win any of their next three league matches following the Milan defeat as another huge dent in their title challenge.

Next season will certainly serve up as a great one as the club will look to return to the top of the Serie A summit with a key mindset on accomplishing revenge.

One key arrival has come in the goalkeeping department in André Onana from Ajax, which has hinted that long-standing keeper and captain Samir Handanovic’s time as the first choice man between the sticks is coming to an end.

There will no doubt be further pieces added to Inzaghi’s playing group as a close eye will be maintained throughout the transfer window. There will be expectations for Inter to obviously compete for all domestic titles in 2022-23, but to also progress further in the knockout stages in Europe.

Season rating: 7.5/10.


What rating would you give Inter Milan for this past season?