By 90Min
September 24, 2019

Since winning the Champions League in 2010 with Jose Mourinho, Inter have been in a weird state of flux. They have won just two trophies since - the Club World Cup and the Coppa Italia, with both triumphs coming in the season immediately after Mourinho's departure.

They had to endure a six-year absence from European football's top table, chopping and changing their formula seemingly every summer in the hope of a sustainable future. Diego Forlan, Dani Osvaldo, Lukas Podolski, Stevan Jovetic, Gabriel Barbosa - the graveyard for players' reputations has resided at San Siro this decade.

But finally hope has returned to the Nerazzurri, mainly due to one man's arrival - that of their new manager, Antonio Conte.

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Bringing in Giuseppe Marotta as CEO - who worked in tandem so well with Conte at rivals Juventus - midway through last season set the foundations for the excitement at Inter today. The club have built a proven side which perfectly suits Conte's style, with the days of signings busts feeling long ago now.

Playing his trademark 3-5-2, Conte has plenty of options to field a side in his own image in his first season. Inter have among the best defensive options in Europe with Diego Godin, Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar likely to play ahead of Samir Handanovic once all are available. In midfield, they have two great prospects in Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi, who have both stamped their authority on the team one way or another already this season.

And then you have the blockbuster signings, two forwards hoping for a new lease of life in a new environment and under a new manager - Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

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Outcast by Manchester United, the duo, at their best, have the potential to score bucket loads in Serie A - while at worst, they're still good players who can contribute a myriad of ways. Lukaku was heavily criticised in his second and final year at Old Trafford for his poor first touch and an unflattering record in big games, but his goal record is incredibly consistent and he has a chance to right a potential wrong in his career by finally linking up with Conte, who wanted to sign him while at Chelsea.

Sanchez is a tricky one to nail. Up until the day he left Arsenal, he was among the best forwards in world football and it wasn't a debate. When he first put on that United shirt (well, after he did the piano announcement video), he became a lethargic and wasteful player with little end product or upside. 

So why is his signing a good one for Inter?

Sometimes all a player needs is a fresh start, a chance at redemption. It's easy to forget that footballers are people too. Sanchez was clearly never happy in a toxic United dressing room where he appeared to only have one real friend - Lukaku. If the two are determined enough to save their reputations, they'll click at Inter.

Inter's squad may not be as strong as Juventus, but it's close enough for their to be a race this season. 

Conte is a firefighter capable of quickly turning teams fortunes around; he won Juve's first titles since the Calciopoli scandal, going from seventh place to first in his debut season in charge, and, of course, turned Chelsea back from 10th to 93-point champions.

The stars may be aligning in Milan, but they'll still need Juventus to be less than their usual perfect in order to knock them off their perch. A bloated squad and an inferior manager in Maurizio Sarri could bring Inter a little closer to their first Scudetto in a decade, though the Old Lady still have football's ultimate trump card in Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line.

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Juventus probably won't walk the title, particularly as their search and lust for an elusive Champions League crown grows stronger. 

Ironically, Inter may be the opposite, with Conte holding a less-than-favourable record in Europe but excellence domestically, winning either the league or cup in every year as a club manager since 2011.

So far this season, Inter's only wobble has been in the Champions League, while they've won their first four Serie A games, including a suffocating win over Milan in the Derby della Madonnina. They have a guarantor of league titles on the sideline and a guarantor of goals leading the line. Juve, however, have looked a bit shakier, winning three and drawing one in their opening league matches.

Serie A fans can rejoice - a worthy contender to the Bianconeri may finally have emerged.

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