Inter Milan have done the unthinkable this season by reaching the final of the Champions League for the first time since 2010.
The Nerazzurri were not considered the favourites at first due to their lacklustre campaign in Serie A, but they are deserving finalists.
The Italian giants weathered an early storm in the group stage, getting the better of Barcelona to sustain their place in a ‘group of death’.
They followed it up with victories over Porto and Benfica before battering their arch-rivals AC Milan in the semi-finals.
The Nerazzurri dominated both legs of the Milan derby, winning with an aggregate score of 3-0.
From Simone Inzaghi’s tactical decisions to the resurgence of the Romelu Lukaku-Lautaro Martinez partnership and the unbreachable defence, everything has fallen in place for Inter at a crucial time.
However, there is one telling factor behind the scenes which has contributed to Inter’s success.
The Nerazzurri are reaping the benefits from their shrewd transfer business in recent years.
Inter’s financial crisis has been well documented, and there have also been rumours about owners Suning considering selling the club.
Inter have been forced to seek cost-effective transfers and Bosman deals, including Edin Dzeko, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Hakan Calhanoglu.
Those transfers raised more eyebrows as most are in their late 30s and not high-profile names.
However, those players have been instrumental in Inter’s fairytale run in the Champions League this season.
Despite being 37, Dzeko has defied the age by chipping in with some crucial goals, including the strike in the first leg of the semi-final against Milan.
The Bosnian striker has netted 14 goals in all competitions this season.
Mkhitaryan, who was preferred over Marcelo Brozovic in the starting XI, seized his opportunity by scoring in the first leg against Milan.
Calhanoglu incurred the wrath of Milan fans after joining the arch-rivals Inter on a free transfer in 2021, and he was at the heart of the undoing of his former club.
The Turkish midfielder’s impact has been greater than most Inter players this season. Playing in a much deeper role than usual, he has consistently produced top-notch performances.
Andre Onana can also be argued to be one of the best transfers Inter have made in recent memory.
Arriving on a free transfer from Ajax, the Cameroonian goalkeeper has established himself as the first choice between the sticks.
Last night’s clean sheet against Rossoneri was his eighth of the season in the Champions League, and he is one shy of equalling the record number of shut-outs in a single campaign in the competition’s history.
Inter have put their previous troubles behind them and hit form at a crucial stage of the season.
Regardless of whether Manchester City or Real Madrid will be in the final, this gritty Inter side will prove to be a tough nut to crack and will try to achieve the impossible dream.
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