Here’s a simple mathematical equation:
Juventus + Cristiano Ronaldo = An eighth consecutive Serie A title.
The last thing the rest of Serie A needed after The Old Lady wrapped up a seventh successive title in May was the arrival of The Old Man who’s not scored less than 30 goals in a season since 2009.
Serie A is a foregone conclusion, then.
But wait. Before you cancel your subscription to Gazzetta dello Sport and return your Italian phrase book, allow us to put forward the case for Inter Milan.
While the red and black side of Milan is on the verge of collapse, I Nerazzurri have been quietly building a squad capable of ending Juventus’ monopoly.
Made in Argentina
Inter fans have long been blessed to watch some of the best strikers in world football strut their stuff at the San Siro.
The 20th anniversary of Ronaldo, Roberto Baggio, Ivan Zamorano, Alvaro Recoba, Christian Vieri and Adrian Mutu all jostling for minutes is only around the corner.
In more recent years Mauro Icardi has been fighting the good fight on his own since joining from Sampdoria in 2013, but he now looks to have a partner in crime worthy of following some legendary footsteps.
The buzz around Lautaro Martinez’s arrival from Racing Club reached fever pitch when he took Inter’s no.10 shirt, previously held by Ronaldo, Baggio and Wesley Sneijder.
Inter have been shrewd when it comes to building a backline.
Milan Skriniar and Miranda joined for a combined €35million, which wouldn’t buy a shirt big enough to fit Harry Maguire’s head through in the current transfer market.
This window Luciano Spalletti has already added Netherlands international Stefan de Vrij on a free transfer from Lazio.
The 26-year-old was busy charming his new fans long before the deal was announced.
De Vrij’s last performance in a Lazio shirt came against Inter on the final day of the season and involved giving away a penalty.
It’s because of Lazio’s collapse, for which De Vrij was partly to blame, and eventual 3-2 loss that Inter are playing Champions League football this season.
Put Miranda, Skriniar and De Vrij in front of penalty-saving extraordinaire Samir Handanovic and it all starts to look very serene for Inter at the back.
Balance in midfield
Heading into the World Cup many assumed Matteo Kovacic would partner Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in Crotaia’s midfield.
But Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic ended up being the pivot of Croatia’s run to the final due to his ability to provide balance in midfield.
This season he’ll be joined by Radja Nainggolan as Serie A clubs’ bizarre love of selling their top players to each other continues.
Nainggolan didn’t finish last season strongly but his drive and energy would have been a welcome addition to any squad in Europe.
Matias Vecino was part of Uruguay’s impressive World Cup midfield quartet and will provide competition in the centre of the park along with Italy international Roberto Gagliardini.
Finally, Borja Valero might have an unhappy spell at West Brom on his resume but don’t let that distract you from the fact he’s a classy operator.
The touch of magic
Keeping hold of Ivan Perisic will be crucial to Inter’s hopes of toppling Juventus from Serie A’s summit.
The Croatian winger can go both ways, is comfortable on both feet, works hard and has flawless technique, all of which makes a move to Man United under the Portuguese Tony Pulis, Jose Mourinho, so plausible.
It’s a rumour wielded out every transfer window, but this time the timing feels right.
Inter would be sorely lacking in the creativity department if Perisic did call an end to his time in Milan.
Time to cross your fingers and toes, Inter fans.