Serie A 2013-14 season previews: Inter Milan hoping to forget the horrors of last season

Roberto Serra

A battered and bruised Inter finally limped home in 9th place in 2012-13, their worst finish since 1993-94. Unsurprisingly, a raft of changes have been effected by Massimo Moratti including the appointment of Walter Mazzarri to replace the hapless Andrea Stramaccioni, in the hope of propelling the side back up the table where they belong.

Walter Mazzarri has always been a shrewd operator in the transfer market and he has been handed a mammoth task to haul Inter out of their extended post-Mourinho doldrums. Early signs look promising with a host of Serie A-proven talent recruited to augment what was never a bad squad, but one severely mismanaged by the previous regime.

Last Season

Things all started well for Inter: a stunning run through October and November, which included a 3-1 victory over bitter rivals Juventus, put them well in Scudetto contention. However by early January they were looking increasingly out of the title race. What followed beggars belief - a baffling series of injures plagued the squad with14 first team players sidelined at one point, including all senior strikers but Tommaso Rocchi. With the majority of the side playing out of position, Inter dropped like a stone and they came over the line a lowly 9th with much of their squad still in the treatment room.

Who's Gone?

Dejan Stankovic: After nine years' service and just about every medal available in Calcio, the tenacious Serbian midfielder finally departs. Highlights of his time at Inter include the treble season, and scoring one of the greatest goals ever seen in the Champions League, with an outrageous volley from near the half way line over Manuel Neuer.

Antonio Cassano: Cassano leaves to Parma, with Ishak Belfodil coming the other way, after just one season with the Nerazzurri. In the early part of the season, he formed one third of a formidable forward line alongside Rodrigo Palacio and Diego Milito however he fell foul of the club-wide injury crisis after the winter break and his appearances were restricted. His best performance came in the 4-1 victory over Tottenham in the Europa League where he was simply unplayable and Inter were unlucky to go out on away goals after a dreadful first leg.

Walter Gargano: The Uruguayan returns to parent club Napoli after an indifferent season on loan. His displays in midfield were solid if unspectacular but former coach Mazzarri appears unwilling to make the move permanent.

Matias Silvestre: Following an underwhelming and injury-interrupted season, Silvestre moves along to city rivals AC Milan on loan, with the option for the Rossoneri to make the deal permanent at the end of the season.

Who's In?

Mauro Icardi: Impressive displays for Sampdoria last season, including four in a 6-0 rout of Pescara, prompted Inter to move early for the young Argentine. He should fit in with his compatriots Palacio and Milito to form a formidable forward line, although it remains to be seen how the pressure of playing for a club as big as Inter will weigh on the 20 year-old's shoulders.

Ishak Belfodil: The Algerian powerhouse's on-field displays last season were certainly impressive however there is a significant question mark over his off-field attitude, most significantly a bust-up with Roberto Donadoni in training that led to him falling out of favour and eventually out of the club. If he can keep his head screwed on the right way, he can be an excellent addition.

Hugo Campagnaro: Mazzarri brings the dependable Argentine with him from Napoli on a free transfer. One of Serie A's most consistent defenders over the past few seasons, he can do nothing but help Inter's leaky defence.

Rolando: Another defensive recruit formerly of Napoli, the Portugal international comes in from Porto on loan.

Keep An Eye On

Mateo Kovacic: Signed in January, the injury crisis in the second half of the season thrust the 19 year-old Croatian into the first team almost immediately. He performed admirably in adverse conditions, his slick passing one of the few positives of the second half of Inter's season. His displays were so impressive, he was handed his full Croatia debit by Igor Stimac in their World Cup qualifier against Serbia, putting in an impressive display in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the Balkan derby.

Predicted Finish

Barring another injury crisis, Inter should at least perform better than last season and will be looking at a place in Europe at the very least. Mazzarri has led Napoli to the Champions League in two of the past three seasons and the Inter faithful will expect a return to Europe's top table; however progress may take a while after the rut of last season and a place anywhere inside the top five should be seen as satisfactory.

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