The importance of skipper Samir Handanovic to this Inter side can’t be understated.
A fine leader, incredible shot-stopper and cool distributor; Handanovic has built a reputation of arguably being Serie A’s best goalkeeper over the past couple of years.
And his absence was truly felt when back-up Daniele Padelli was thrust into the starting XI back in February. In those three games, Inter were forced to come back from 2-0 down in the Derby della Madonnina against Milan after Padelli gifted Ante Rebic the opener, while the 34-year-old Italian could’ve done better with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s winner in the 2-1 defeat against Lazio.
Overall, his unconvincing nature added a sense of nervousness that wasn’t previously there to the outfielders, particularly to the imperious back three.
So, with Handanovic in the twilight of his career and Padelli simply not a viable long-term option as his number two, Inter must go in search of the Slovenian’s potential successor or at least a superior cover option than Padelli in the next transfer window.
Here are five options…
Continued inconsistency – even before his absence from the Tottenham starting XI with an elbow injury – has reportedly forced Jose Mourinho into the market for the Spurs skipper’s replacement.
Le 10 Sport report Mourinho is targeting a deal for Lille’s Mike Maignan but his arrival would only come if Lloris is sold.
So, with the World Cup winning captain potentially on the market, Inter shouldn’t hesitate in snapping him up as more of a short-term option.
While frequent errors and overhit lofted passes out to the flanks have become synonymous with Lloris, the 33-year-old still has the ability to pull off the impossible and single-handedly win a game on his own.
Nevertheless, unlike Padelli he’d provide actual competition for the superb Handanovic and he could potentially succeed the Slovenian as Inter’s outright number one before he hangs up his gloves.
Potential Price: £10-15m
The young Frenchman has been subjected to a backup role this term, with Thibaut Courtois finally remembering what the role of a goalkeeper is.
The Belgian’s been superb for Los Blancos after an indifferent debut campaign in Madrid.
And with Areola unlikely to gazump the mightily underrated Keylor Navas when he returns from his loan spell at Real, the talented Frenchman may opt for a permanent move away in a bid for regular minutes.
The PSG man, who’s proven to be adept with the ball at his feet and is comfortable at combining with his centre-backs in the first phase, would be the ideal option as Handanovic’s successor at San Siro.
Potential Price: £15m – £25m
The former Leeds keeper has enjoyed a stellar campaign at Serie A’s surprise outfit Hellas Verona this season, keeping a joint-league high nine clean sheets.
Silvestri’s 79.6% save percentage ranks second in Italy behind only Juventus’ Wojciech Szczęsny – Handanovic’s is 75.3% – while the Italian was largely credited for keeping out Lazio and Udinese in 0-0 stalemates.
Verona’s style means it’s rare to see him with the ball at his feet in open play – he’s attempted just 233 passes this term compared to Handanovic’s 485 – but he’s proved with his shot-stopping ability to be a worthy candidate of providing cover for the Slovenian at San Siro.
Potential Price: £7m – £10m
Another domestic option for the Nerazzurri to serve as their number two is Parma’s Luigi Sepe; the 28-year-old who ranks fourth in Serie A for saves (90) and save percentage (77.8%).
The Italian has enjoyed a fine 2020 barring the 5-0 mauling away at Atalanta; with his distribution over longer distances and sharp reflexes credited as two of his standout attributes.
Like Silvestri, Pepe isn’t used to the press-baiting tactic often used by Antonio Conte which sees Handanovic and the back three combine in a bid to draw teams higher up the pitch before exploiting the space created between the lines, so that’ll be an adjustment he’ll have to make.
Nevertheless, the Parma man is undoubtedly a superior option to Padelli and being just 28, he still has time develop into Inter’s long-term number one.
Potential Price: £5m – £8m
Despite only turning 21 in January, Lafont has heaps of experience at a senior level. In 2015 he became Ligue 1’s youngest ever goalkeeper aged just 16 and has gone on to make 155 first-team league appearances.
The Frenchman has been out on loan at Nantes this term after losing his starting spot at Fiorentina – who he joined from Toulouse in 2018 – to Bartłomiej Drągowski. His time at La Viola was marred by some high-profile errors amid some heroic performances and during his return to France this season, Lafont’s matured as a goalkeeper – with errors certainly becoming less frequent.
His 65 saves and 71.4% save percentage are both respectable and are in the middle of the pack among Ligue 1 keepers. Lafont’s ten clean sheets, however, rank sixth.
While his talent is raw, the Frenchman’s adept nature in possession along with his knack of pulling off the spectacular make him an intriguing possibility for Inter.
Potential Price: £15m – £21m