Monday, July 8, 2013, this date marks the dawn of a new era for Inter. It was the date when the Inter players returned to work at the Centro Sportivo Angelo Moratti training ground, ready to start the campaign that will hopefully see the Nerazzurri once again amongst the top teams in Italy.
As the players arrived to put behind them the disappointment of last season's campaign, the changes are already evident. Pictured arriving for training amongst familiar faces including Rodrigo Palacio, Juan Jesus, Mateo Kovačić and Ricky Alvarez, were the latest Nerazzurri new boys who will be eager to prove their worth and make their names in the sacred Inter colours.
Welcomed to the training ground at Appiano Gentile by team manager Ivan Cordoba were Inter's newest signings Hugo Campagnaro, Marco Andreolli, Ishak Belfodil and Mauro Icardi, and before the training session commenced Andreolli told inter.it about his return home: "I'm really proud and happy to be back home. I grew up with Inter, I made my Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia debuts here. We won the Coppa Italia with the Primavera and I scored against AC Milan in the final. I'll never forget how excited I was that day. I went mad when we won the 2007 Scudetto at Siena and I was lucky to be a part of so many other great achievements. Now I'm back here to take up from where I left off and give everything I've got for my Inter. I hope to relive the thrills I had here the first time."
It is well known how disappointed the Inter fans feel whenever one of the promising primavera players gets sold to another club. There have been far too many to mention in recent years, so it is great to see one of them finally return to the club, especially one who still apparently holds so much affection for the place he first called home.
This of course is the first training session of the season with the full Inter group, and on Wednesday Walter Mazzarri will take 31 players (including six primavera youngsters) to the summer training camp at Pinzolo. Of the 25 first-team players Mazzarri has selected 10 defenders, which says to me he will be concentrating on the team's defensive capabilities over the two-week training camp. This is an area that will be vastly important to the club's chances of competing over the year, as we've seen in the past couple of seasons it is this weak point that needs improving the most within the team.
Mazzarri himself said last month that this training camp will help him to decide who will become part of his squad for the coming season and who the club is likely to try to offload, so every player on the list will be looking to prove himself invaluable to Mazzarri's tactics over the next couple of weeks. However, it seems that Mazzarri has decided the fate of a couple of his players already with Matias Silvestre and Ezequiel Schelotto both being left in Milan with the intention of selling the pair as quickly as possible.
While on the subject of players leaving, yesterday saw the departure of club legend Dejan Stankovic, who after nearly 10 years at the club has decided it's time to leave. It was an emotional goodbye for the Serbian and his letter that was published on the Inter website thanking the club and the fans for his time at Inter brought about a nostalgic feeling of loss for Interisti. It's good to see a senator like him realising he cannot offer the club anything anymore and making the decision to leave so that he doesn't become a burden to the club. I only wish Cristian Chivu would show the club the same respect too, but he seems adamant that he wants to stay at the club even though he cannot justify his wage bill on the pitch.
The final exciting event of the day was the official announcement of both the new home and away kits that these players will be wearing with pride during this upcoming season. Both shirts are made from the usual Nike Dri-Fit material and are apparently 23% lighter than last season's versions, but I'm sure the main interest from the fans is in how they look.
The home shirt is of course in the club's traditional black and blue vertical stripes, but this season we will see a darker shade of blue compared to the familiar royal blue we are used too. This combined with what they are calling a mandarin collar makes for a very stylish and sleek shirt. The rest of the strip the players will be wearing with it will be black shorts and black socks that will both feature blue stripes on the sides and two stripes at the top respectively.
The away kit is a return to my favoured white shirt with royal blue Nike and Pirelli branding. The away shirt also features the mandarin collar, though in royal blue instead of the black of the home shirt, and the sleeves end with black and blue horizontal stripes. For me this is a far more appealing shirt than the red monstrosity they chose last season. The shorts for the away strip are white with the same blue stripes on either side, and the socks will also be white but with a black and blue strip running down the back.
All in all I'm very happy with the elegant and stylish look of both of the new strips; my only concern comes from the description Inter has published on their site about the fit: "The new kit offers a more athletic and dynamic fit. Nike carried out a series of 3D scans on the bodies of some of the world's top footballers to produce more ergonomic shirts."
The description makes me think it will be quite a tight fitting shirt, which is great for the performance of the players on the pitch, but this is the last thing I would want to see in the replica version considering how unlike an athletically built footballer my body shape is. Obviously without trying on the shirts - which are released on Wednesday - I may be worrying about nothing and as with previous shirts I'm hoping I can feel comfortable wearing the club's colours.
With the club sporting a brand-new kit and some new exciting players for this upcoming season, I am both excited and optimistic about seeing a much better Inter take to the pitch against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in the Guinness International Champions Cup on Aug. 1, than the one we saw get embarrassed by Udinese at the end of last season in the league.