Written By Onyeka Daniel
Since losing last season’s UCL final to English Premier League side, Manchester City, Italian side, Inter Milan seems to have gone from strength to strength, with an unbeaten run since that time that also includes the 5-1 demolition of AC Milan over the weekend.
Even in that game against City, they were able to have their say in the match, but the treble winners were able to make their quality count to win it via a lone goal and coach of the side feels that the Nerazzurri have what it takes to win the UCL this season.
Pep Guardiola feels that Inter Milan are a strong enough team to be a candidate to reach the Champions League final and he made this known in a recent press conference. The Spanish tactician looked back on his own team’s experience in the final of last campaign’s edition of the competition.
Inter and Manchester City both begin their Champions League campaigns this week. For Guardiola and City, they head into the competition as defending champions, while for the Nerazzurri, the motivation could be even stronger.
Last campaign came about as possible as it is possible to get to winning the Champions League without actually lifting the trophy. The Nerazzurri’s season ended in heartbreak after they lost 0-1 to City in the final. It was a match where Inter never looked out of their depth, and squandered good chances to get back into the match late.
This time around, Inter would of course like to do one better. And for his part, Cityzens coach Guardiola believes that they could very well do so. Guardiola noted that “Look at what happened with the team that we beat [in the final last season]. They just won the derby 5-1.”
“I always knew that we were facing an incredibly strong team,” the City coach said of last season’s final. “They proved it. They caused us a lot of problems, and we had to fight hard for our victory.”
“The coin ended up falling in our favour,” Guardiola said, insinuating that last season’s final was little more than a 50/50 match. “But I have no doubt that Inter are among the teams that could reach the final this season.” He further added. City will be facing Serbian side, Crvena Zvezda in England while Inter will be away to Real Sociedad at the San Sebastian stadium.
One of the heroes of the derby win is French striker, Marcus Thuram, with his effort really instrumental in the first goal before scoring the second goal, literally creating a goal from nothing with an angled drive that gave Mike Maignan in goal no chance. But he could have actually been playing for the Rossoneri, according to reports.
Inter were one of a number of teams to show an interest in signing Thuram on a free transfer this summer. However, once the summer transfer window rolled around, the race to sign the Frenchman seemed to boil down to three teams in particular.
French giants Paris Saint-Germain were one of the 26-year-old’s main suitors. The Parisians would have had at least one clear selling point for Thuram, the chance to return to his homeland to play in Ligue 1. According to reports, Thuram was ready to sign for PSG had they appointed Julian Nagelsmann as coach.
There were talks between PSG and the former Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, and Hoffenheim coach. However, in the end PSG brought in Luis Enrique instead of the German. And so Thuram decided not to make the switch to the French capital. After rejecting PSG, Thuram made up his mind to move to Serie A instead.
The two clubs with the strongest interest in the Frenchman by far were Inter and AC Milan. And then, the Nerazzurri found that circumstances aligned perfectly for them to get the jump on their derby rivals. After Edin Dzeko confirmed that he would be leaving Inter on a free transfer to join Fenerbahce.
A slot in Inter’s squad opened up, as well as their wage bill, for a top-class striker. And so the Nerazzurri moved. They wasted no time in securing an agreement with Thuram. With Dzeko out the door, Inter were ready to offer more or less the same salary they’d been paying to the Bosnian to sign Thuram.
The Rossoneri already had an agreement with him before Inter moved in. The Nerazzurri offered the Frenchman around €6m net per season. This was €1m net or so higher than Milan’s offer. And in the end, Thuram chose Inter. Inter had already actually been close to signing the Frenchman two years ago, in the summer of 2021, before he suffered a serious injury and this has been confirmed by the player too.
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