Inter and Juventus are the front-runners to sign Brescia’s Sandro Tonali this summer, but how might he fit into the starting line-up under Antonio Conte? And would he be suited to Conte’s Inter at all?
All of Inter, Juve, Milan, and now Fiorentina are in the race to sign Brescia’s young talent. The 20-year-old has featured 23 times in Serie A this season, scoring once. Dubbed “the next Andrea Pirlo,” this season has been Tonali’s third in the Brescia first-team, and by far his best. He’s all the hallmark qualities of the great Milan and Juve midfielder – a range of passing, ability to work the ball out of tight spaces, and to change defense into attack, and Tonali is also something of a set-piece specialist.
Conte’s Inter like to play in a 3-5-2 set-up. The former Juventus boss quickly built his side to play around this formation with Ashley Young and Antonio Candreva playing in either wing-back position, with Marcelo Brozovic and Nicoló Barella in the middle, sitting slightly deeper to allow Christian Eriksen to be the more attacking of the midfield trio. With that said, Tonali would likely be looking at either Brozovic or Barella as his main competition to break into the Inter first-team, without discounting the experienced likes of Kwadwo Asamoah and Danilo D’Ambrosio.
Having had such a good season with Brescia, Tonali will no doubt be looking for a move to a much bigger club this summer, and he’ll be eyeing somewhere with guaranteed first-team football. Obviously at Juve, regular starts in Serie A might be less of a guarantee. But at the likes of Inter, Milan or even Fiorentina, Tonali would have much more scope for first-team action. Also given the fact that the likes of Asamoah and D’Ambrosio are all over 30-years-old, a young and hungry Tonali could be looking at that Inter midfield as a potential gap in the market.
Whilst Inter and Juve are the leading contenders to sign Tonali, a potential move away from Italy shouldn’t be ruled out just yet. According to Goal, both Manchester United and Manchester City are monitoring his progression, whilst Barcelona are also said to be interested. At this stage in Tonali’s career though, moving to either Inter or Juve seems the best fit. Still aged just 20, we’ve seen plenty of young footballers break through their own domestic leagues, only to be spoiled on foreign shores.
For Inter then, Tonali could be the long-term solution to a very aging side, particularly in the center of midfield. There’s plenty of players who would provide quality competition for Tonali, and playing and training with such experienced names would only be good for him. But it’s a question of “if.” If Tonali does decide he wants to stay in Italy, can Inter beat Juve, and now Fiorentina to his signature? Should they succeed then it’ll no doubt send a message to Serie A sides, and in Tonali they’d have a future star of Italian football on their hands.