The 36-year-old Slovenian goalkeeper is still a hot property for the top European clubs.
Samir Handanovic has been the guardian angel of Inter Milan through all their ups and downs over the last few years, being arguably their most consistent player since arriving. The formidable goalkeeper has saved the Nerrazurri from trouble time and again over the years, being a leader at the back with his world-class goalkeeping skills.
The problem with him being so good is that top clubs are circling around for a potential move. Despite making forward steps under Antonio Conte, Inter could be tempted to sell their star player, if a record-breaking bid is presented. Selling a goalkeeper like Handanovic, who is not only an exceptional shot-stopper but terrific penalty-specialist too, won’t be easy to gulp.
What will be even more difficult is finding a proper successor. However, there are a few rising and settled goalkeeping talents around Europe they could turn to. Here we look at five possible replacements for Handanovic at Inter:
5. Rui Patricio
If Inter aim to get a short-term solution to Handanovic’s potential sale, Rui Patricio is a perfect, readymade top goalkeeper they could sign for a relatively low fee. The Portuguese goalkeeper has been rock-solid for a stubborn Wolves side in the Premier League, maintaining one of the best defensive records for the last few seasons.
He’s kept 21 clean-sheets in 72 Premier League appearances, including 13 last season itself. The 6’3 goalkeeper is not only intimidating, safe and collects crosses with ease, but flexible enough to make expert saves. Like Samir Handanovic, Patricio is also an expert at saving penalties- making a good like-for-like replacement.
4. Thomas Strakosha
While this could get a little bit tricky as Thomas Strakosha is a Lazio player, but he’s ideal to fit in at Inter knowing how much he’s evolving as a reliable goalkeeper. The Albanian has gotten better and better for Lazio, averaging more than 10 clean-sheets every season for the last three campaigns now.
He has a pretty solid save percentage as well, making those clutch stops exactly when his team need it the most. The swift goalkeeper commands his area expertly and is a proven winner in Serie A. If Inter do want to replace Samir Handanovic with someone from within the league, Strakosha is the obvious choice.
3. Unai Simon
The 23-year-old Spaniard was among the best goalkeepers in LaLiga last season, pulling off some exceptional stops for a gritty Athletic Bilbao side. Simon kept 13 clean-sheets and only conceded 29 goals in 34 appearances last season.
He is well-suited to Inter’s style, knowing how to command his defence and having impressive instincts to make lightening quick stops to save his teammates’ blushes. The youngster is only guaranteed to get better and could soon become the No.1 for the Spanish national team, so Inter could make a clever deal with Bilbao to sign Simon before he gains more attention from the big clubs.
2. Andre Onana
Andre Onana has emerged as one of the most sought-after young goalkeepers in Europe, after excelling at AFC Ajax in recent years. Inter could definitely secure their goalkeeping position for the next decade by signing the Cameroonian, who is clever, experienced and flexible in goal. Onana’s an expert in playing the ball out of defence, learning all the passing traits at Ajax. He’s also a solid shot-stopper, showcasing impressive reflexes to deny opponents.
The 24-year-old kept eight clean-sheets in 24 Eredivisie games for Ajax last season and averaged 4.2 saves per game in the Champions League group stages. Onana is guaranteed to evolve into a reliable, sturdy goalkeeper over the next years and can definitely help the Nerrazurri dominate Italy.
1. Predrag Rakjovic
Inter Milan inherited a rare diamond in Handanovic by signing him in 2012, well before anyone even knew how good he was. They can repeat that by signing young goalkeeper Predrag Rakjovic, who was absolutely brilliant for Ligue 1 club Stade de Reims last season. The Serbian kept 12 clean sheets and only conceded 18 goals in 27 league appearances, averaging 2.6 saves per game (via WhoScored).
The 6’3 goalkeeper has brilliant reflexes, is confident with his style and saved Reims from disaster on a lot of occasions last season. Inter can make a cunning signing by snapping up Rakjovic in a cut-price deal and get the perfect Handanovic successor if they play things right.