Amid all the negativity surrounding Internazionale's poor start to the season and as uninspiring as it has looked from outset, fans can take heart in this: The squad hasn't been this rich in talent in five years. The addition of full-back Cristian Ansaldi is a welcome one as supporters can rejoice that struggling players like Yuto Nagatomo and Danilo D'Ambrosio are now the exception, not the rule.
Ansaldi, who could start his first competitive game for the club against Pescara on Sunday, could also turn out to be one of the bargain buys of the summer alongside Argentine countryman Ever Banega. If his six months with Genoa are any indication, Ansaldi will be as much of a breath of fresh air at the San Siro as he was at the Marassi, where his repeated marauding down the right flank and precise tackling were particularly evident in the Grifone's 1-0 win over Inter in the spring.
By that stage, the Ansaldi had already established himself as one of the most popular players both with the fans and the players in the dressing room, with whom he would regularly post pictures on social media. As silly as it sounds, men like Ansaldi gave some pride back to a team that desperately needed it, after a frankly forgettable start to the 2015-16 season.
The cynics will scoff at a 29-year-old whose only Italian experience is six months at a lower-level club, and whose CV is mostly a Russian affair. Playing for a small Serie A club shouldn't automatically be a knock on someone's potential; Inter acquired Thiago Motta and Diego Milito from Genoa in the summer of 2009, only for both talents to play a key role as the Nerazzurri romped to the Treble.
There are more positives. Ansaldi only cost €2 million in total and unlike half of the club's acquisitions, the Argentine has at least played in Italy before. He comes from the underestimated Russian league, one that has been home to the likes of Artem Dzyuba, Danny, Salomon Rondon and Balazs Dzsudzsak.
Being one of the pillars of the Rubin Kazan team that stunned Barcelona at the Camp Nou back in the 2009 Champions League is no joke, either -- especially when the Russians had earlier managed a draw against Inter.
If there is a drawback to the Ansaldi move, however, it's that he was essentially swapped for 23-year-old Diego Laxalt. If anything, the time may well come when Inter's constant overlooking of the Uruguayan will look like a horribly short-sighted move.
Not giving Laxalt a chance and trusting a known quantity in Nagatomo may have made sense in 2013-14, but it doesn't now. The ex-Cesena man went from being the scorer of five goals and provider of six assists that year to an error-prone defender and blunt instrument in attack. Meanwhile the Uruguayan was becoming one of the league's brightest full-backs, not to mention consistent, even when Genoa were struggling during his loan spell there last season.
Another plus to Ansaldi's arrival is that he can be used in the middle, and thus he can replace the Japanese international's fellow locker room leader Danilo D'Ambrosio. It is baffling to see how far the former Torino player has fallen. While Nagatomo got everyone chuckling when he was visited by a Japanese comedian-doppelganger last season, D'Ambrosio has been a one-man show this year, cluelessly lunging at Palermo players and looking out of place against Chievo.
One cannot overstate this enough: for all their popularity among the players and D'Ambrosio's penchant for the occasional goal, Inter cannot run these failed full-backs out of town fast enough. Modern football is asking every player to do more, and to become the full package. Teams need their terzini to push, something doubly true for the possession-based style manager Frank de Boer likes.
His Ajax teams made Gregory Van Der Wiel look like a star -- a remarkable achievement -- and seamlessly translated to successor Ricardo Van Rijn. Beyond the usual overlapping, both Dutchmen were often given the ball under some pressure, and tasked with finding an unmarked Lancers midfielder to set the attack going.
Watching Nagatomo and D'Ambrosio attempt to do the same is farcical; beyond not possessing the touch, neither has either the vision, physicality, speed or grace to beam down the wing. Fans can hope that the arrival of Ansaldi means the days of these two failed projects are nearing an end at the San Siro.