Inter Milan’s decline in Italian football over the past decade had been rapid. The Nerazzurri had won five consecutive Serie A titles between 2005 and 2010, but have finished in the top three only once since then.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, they haven’t won a single trophy and have played Champions League football only twice. Things seem to be on the mend for the club with Antonio Conte turning them into title challengers this season.
But the lacklustre period with no Champions League football hampered their ability to recruit the best of the players over the last ten years. Investment from new Chinese owners did see them splash a lot of cash around, but most of the recruits ended up proving to be duds.
Amidst all this, there have been some jewels who have shone through and here we take a look at five such players, signed in the last decade, that proved to be excellent acquisitions for Inter;
One of the few players who has been a constant in the Inter Milan lineup for a majority of the last decade, Samir Handanovic signed for the Nerazzurri from fellow Serie A outfit Udinese in 2012 for a fee of €15 million. Replacing treble-winning keeper Julio Cesar was not going to be easy, but the Slovenian eased into the No. 1 spot seamlessly and has been a reliable presence in goal for Inter ever since.
Till date, Handanovic has made 324 appearances for Inter, keeping 114 clean sheets in the process. He might not have won any trophy during his time at Guiseppe Meazza, but Handanovic has certainly established himself as one of the top keepers across Europe.
The Slovenian has been one of the few steady performers in a turbulent period for the club and was rightly rewarded with the captaincy last year. With it, the 35-year-old became the first-ever goalkeeper to be named captain at Inter.
Arguably the biggest success story for Inter Milan, in terms of transfers, during a lacklustre period for the club was Argentine striker Mauro Icardi. The centre-forward joined the Nerazzurri in 2013 from Serie A rivals Sampdoria for €18 million.
While the club was going through a slump, Icardi kept scoring goals for fun, breaching the 15-goal barrier in all the seasons with Inter barring his debut campaign. The Argentine enjoyed his best season in 2017-18, scoring 29 goals in total, following which he was named the club captain ahead of the 2018-10 term.
However, things unravelled last year for the striker. As a punishment for some controversial comments on social media by his wife, the club took Icardi's captaincy away and then banished him from the first-team training in February. While he did return to action a couple of months later and helped Inter return to Champions League, things weren’t the same.
Icardi ended up leaving Inter for PSG last summer. In total, the 27-year-old plundered 124 goals in 219 matches for the Nerazzurri before their association ended in a bitter divorce last year. Things may have turned sour between the club and the player, but there is no denying the impact he had at Inter.
The Croatian isn’t someone who gets a lot of spotlights, but there is no questioning his importance to this Inter Milan team. Signed from Dinamo Zagreb in 2014, initially on loan, before making the deal permanent a year later, Marcelo Brozovic has steadily grown into one of Inter’s most pivotal players in recent years.
Not one to score or create a lot of goals, the 27-year-old does the thankless job in the middle of the park, allowing the more attack-minded players to flourish. Over the years, Brozovic has been linked with a move away to a number of top clubs but has stayed put and continued to perform impressively. Operating at the base of the midfield, he has been critical to Inter’s title push this season.
Till date, Brozovic has made 186 appearances for the Nerazzurri, scoring 23 goals and assisting 22 more. He may not be the most decorated players, but the Croatian, who cost Inter just €5 million, certainly gets the job done.
Only in his third season at Inter, Milan Skriniar has already become a key cog in the wheel for the club, and in the process, has become one of the most sought-after centre-backs across Europe.
Signed from Sampdoria in the summer of 2017 for a transfer fee of €34 million, Skriniar has missed just four Serie A matches for Inter Milan since the 2017-18 season. Strong in the air, possessing excellent defensive nous and blessed with good ball-playing abilities, the Slovakian international is in the making of a complete centre-back.
The 25-year-old has been integral in the club’s resurgence over the past couple of years, naturally attracting interest from some of the biggest clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona. Till date, Skriniar has featured in 118 matches for the Nerazzurri. But given his rapid rise in stature, the day might not be far when the Slovakian decides to move on to greener pastures.
The Belgian may just have been eight months into his stint at Inter, but given the impact he has made in his debut campaign, Romelu Lukaku warrants a place in this list.
Signed from Manchester United for €80 million, the Belgian centre-forward hit the ground running, quickly establishing himself as Antonio Conte’s go-to man in front of goal. Lukaku, so far, has already plundered 23 goals in 35 matches all competitions, while also setting up five more and has been one of the chief driving forces behind Inter Milan’s push for the Serie A title.
The 26-year-old has dispelled notions of him being a flat-track bully, having stepped up and delivered the goods in big games this season. He may just be in his first season at Inter, but considering how well he has done, the Nerazzurri are likely to reap the rewards of his signing for years to come.