Inter Milan Juniors: A look at the youngsters who can make the leap into the first team this season

Inter Milan finished 6th last season in Serie A. A few fresh faces may be just what's needed to lift spirits within the side. Goal.com's Adwait Bhattacharya takes a look...
Inter Milan did not have the best of seasons last campaign as they finished a dismal 6th in the league standings and had to settle for a Europa League spot after having won the Champions League just three years ago. They were knocked out by Oympique de Marseille in the last-16 of last year's Champions League which led to Claudio Ranieri's dismissal who had taken over from Gian Pero Gasperini, who was shown door after just five games at the start of the season.

Inter Milan suffered fourteen losses in the league and the departure of Thiago Motta coupled with poor team performances did not help their cause. Diego Milito shone individually but a season that promised so much for the team, ended up scarring the players and an injection of youth may be what's required to reinvigorate the first team squad.

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Inter Milan's youth team F.C. Internazionale Milano Primavera had one of their best of seasons in a long time as they became 2011-2012 league champions. There are lots of positives that can be taken from the young side and many of them have now been drafted in the first-team squad for the upcoming season. The youth team have a rich history of producing some of the best players and that supply line doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

Goal.com has a look at some of the budding stars..

Arsenal
    Joseph Alfred Duncan
Name: Joseph Alfred Duncan

D.o.B: 10 March 1993

Nationality: Ghana

Position: Midfielder (CM/DM)

Joined:  March,2011

Joseph Alfred Duncan plays as a midfielder for F.C. Internazionale Milano Primavera which is the under-20 team of Italian professional football club Internazionale Milano. He is rated as a bright young prospect in Inter Milan camp and has recently been drafted into the first team squad where he will wear the No. 41 jersey. The 19 year old left-footed player can play as a defensive or central midfielder and has a very impressive work rate, good positioning and times his runs really well. He is very dynamic and brings in lots of energy and power when he's on the field.

Strengths:

A powerful midfielder who’s excellent on the ball, good at building play and always ready to break up opponents’ attacks. He also possesses good shot power and can pick out accurate passes with ease. He is very hard working for his young age and tough for opponents to get past him as he has tremendous amount of upper body strength.

Weaknesses:

The young midfielder lacks composure and focus at times and he needs to work on that if he has to fight for a starting place in the first team.

Recent performances:

After settling into the Nerazzurri’s youth academy, Duncan first caught the eye as one of the stars of the Primavera in the 2010/11 season with Fulvio Pea, and he has continued that into the season first under Andrea Stramaccioni and then under Daniele Bernazzani. He was one of the stand-out players in the Inter side which won the NextGen Series and scored one of the penalties in the shoot-out against Ajax. In total he has scored 6 times with the Primavera, 5 in the league and once in the Coppa Italia.

Where he will fit into the squad:

The first team are quite well equipped in the center of midfield with Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, Fredy Guarin, Dejan Stankovic and a few others who are all available for the coming season. However, Duncan will be sure to get his chance eventually either in the pre-season campaign or against weaker opposition on the rare occasion where he has to make his chance count. Zanetti and Cambiasso are ageing and it will be good if Inter inject some youth into their line-up as Duncan is completely capable of filling their shoes. His versatality further enhances his claim for a spot in the first team squad.

"I'm not the coach, but there are three or four members of the Primavera who could be introduced into the first team"

- Inter President Massimo Moratti (Before Alfred Duncan got drafted into the first-team squad)


Arsenal
    Luc Castaignos
Name: Luc Castaignos

D.o.B: 10 September 1992

Nationality: Netherlands

Position: Striker (CF)

Joined:  July, 2011

Luc Castaignos is a Dutch footballer who plays as a striker for Inter Milan. He is the all-time top scorer of the Netherlands U-17 National team. As a player he has drawn comparisons to Thierry Henry. Castaignos joined the Feyenoord youth set-up in 2007 and broke into the first team in 2009, where he made 37 appearances netting 15 goals in the Dutch top flight. He joined the Nerazzurri in July 2011 where he has made 6 appearances scoring 1 goal. He wears the No. 30 jersey.

Strengths:

A jet-heeled forward with an uncanny eye for goal, good technique and great strength. He has a particularly acute sense of positioning and knows how to time his runs to perfection. Though he favours the right, he can finish with either foot and is also formidable in the air.

Weaknesses:

The striker is still young and has a lot to learn. He needs to be more composed in front of goal and gather some experience in the top flight so that he is matured enough to lead the line up-front for the club in the coming years.

Recent performances:

After joining Inter Milan for a fee of around €3 million, he featured throughout preseason last year, most notably scoring the opening goal in a friendly against Celtic on July 30, 2011. Castaignos scored his first goal in Serie A in an away match to Siena on November 27, 2011, latching on to Thiago Motta's through ball before firing low past Brkic, which they won 1-0.

Where he will fit into the squad:

The first team cannot boast of that much quality in the striking department as compared to their midfield as it was primarily only Diego Milito who fired for the Nerazurris with 24 goals in the league. Diego Forlan left the club after a dismal season, while Giampaolo Pazzini scored only 5 goals and could be off-loaded. If Inter fail to sign a top striker by the end of the transfer season, Castaignos will have a definite role to play and can be clinical up-front as he is young and very fast. A possible partnership with Milito could also work and his goal-scoring ability will really have to come to the fore if he is to help Inter fight for the Scudetto next season.

"Luc Castaignos. I really like his game, he is the type of true central striker. He has not become a regular player but it's just a matter of time. When the time comes, he will become a better player and will be able to lift this team."

- Walter Samuel (Inter Milan Defender)


Arsenal
Matteo Bianchetti
Name : Matteo Bianchetti

D.o.B: 17 March 1993

Nationality: Italy

Position: Defender (CB/Full Back)

Joined:  March,2011

Matteo Bianchetti plays as a centre back for F.C. Internazionale Milano Primavera which is the under-20 team of Italian professional football club Internazionale Milano. He was instrumental in their title win in the 2011-2012 season. He has featured for Italy U-18 and U-19 and has played 12 games. His last international game for Italy U19 was on 17th November, 2011 under Alberigo Evani against Montenegro U19. He has recently been drafted in the first team squad where he will wear the No. 44 jersey.

Strengths:

He is a smart defender with good technical abilities. He is versatile as he can play on either side of centre back position and is also good playing as a right full back. He is good on the ball and makes sharp accurate challenges.

Weaknesses:

He does a good job at the back but needs to improve a lot and commit less errors if he has to make the first team squad. He looks weak physically and has to be strong during challenges when he comes up against strong well built strikers.

Recent performances:

After settling into the Nerazzurri’s youth academy, he has featured in 52 matches over two seasons in the youth set-up and has earned a deserved call to the first team squad after putting in some fine performances. He has scored two goals in all his games and was instrumental in his club's title win last season. He made the bench once in a game against Roma on 17th September, 2011 and scored against Udinese on 11th of December, 2011.

Where he will fit into the squad:

The first team are sufficiently strong at the back with Walter Samuel and youngster Andrea Ranocchia at centre back position while Maicon and Yuto Nagatomo are the full backs. Despite Lucio's departure, they are a strong unit and it will take time for Bianchetti to make it to the starting line-up. He is indeed the perfect replacement for Walter Samuel in the coming years and if Maicon decides to leave this summer, he can very well be offered the right back position which he will be glad to accept. His versatile ability will attract the coach's attention and his performance in the pre-season friendly, if given a chance will be crucial to his starting line-up hopes in the coming season.

"He will be an important player for this team. He gets himself noticed right from the start."

- Gian Piero Gasperini (Inter Milan Manager)


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