Key players behind Inter Milan's 19th Serie A triumph

a man standing in front of a crowd: Achraf Hakimi celebrates after scoring against Crotone. © GIOVANNI ISOLINO Achraf Hakimi celebrates after scoring against Crotone.

Inter Milan won their first Serie A title since 2010 and 19th in the club's history on Sunday.

AFP Sport looks at the key players in the Italian giants' first silverware since the 2011 Coppa Italia.

ROMELU LUKAKU/LAUTARO MARTINEZ

Antonio Conte's "gentle giant" Lukaku has powered Inter's front line since his 80 million euro ($89 million) signing from Manchester United just after the coach's arrival two years ago.

Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte (C) celebrates with Alexis Sanchez (L) and Romelu Lukaku. © MIGUEL MEDINA Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte (C) celebrates with Alexis Sanchez (L) and Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku, 27, and 23-year-old Lautaro Martinez have formed one of the most formidable attacking duos in Europe, the Belgian scoring 21 league goals so far and the Argentine 15.

"A lot of people turned their nose up when we signed Lukaku and said he was overrated," said coach Conte. "But I always said that he arrived with potential and if he worked hard he could do extraordinary things.

"Lautaro's improving hugely in every aspect. (Alexis) Sanchez is also an important player for us, but he has Lukaku and Lautaro ahead of him and this is giving me selection headaches."

a man with a football ball: Romelu Lukaku (R) and Lautaro Martinez (L) powered Inter Milan's front line this season. © Isabella BONOTTO Romelu Lukaku (R) and Lautaro Martinez (L) powered Inter Milan's front line this season.

NICOLO BARELLA

Italy international Barella has also broken through in his second campaign with Inter after five seasons at his hometown club Cagliari.

The 24-year-old midfielder's partnership with right-back Achraf Hakimi has been productive for Inter with his performances propelling him to an increasingly important role in Roberto Mancini's Italy team.

"I'm feeling much more confident in my abilities," said Barella. 

"Training with great players has helped me. I've studied them and improved by taking inspiration from them."

ACHRAF HAKIMI

Moroccan defender Hakimi took some time to warm up after arriving last summer from Real Madrid for 40 million euros ($48 million) after two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund.

a close up of a man with a football ball: Breakthrough season for Italian midfielder Nicolo Barella. © giovanni isolino Breakthrough season for Italian midfielder Nicolo Barella.

The 22-year-old's pace has proved devastating down the right flank with seven goals in his first season in Serie A, cementing his place as Conte's first choice right-back.

MATTEO DARMIAN

Conte dubbed versatile ex-Manchester United defender Darmian as being 'worth 15 points' after his goals against Cagliari and Hellas Verona snatched vital wins in the title run-in.

"Matteo has carved out an important spot here at Inter," said Conte of the player capable of playing most positions in the back four. 

"There wasn't any big fanfare when he arrived, but he played for another big club in Manchester United. He's an exceptional lad, you can always count on him."

Back-line trio Milan Skriniar, Stefan De Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni also provided the tightest defence in the league with captain Samir Handanovic generally solid in goal.

a group of young men playing a game of football: Versatile defender Matteo Darmian (L) proved to be a handy goal scorer. © Alberto PIZZOLI Versatile defender Matteo Darmian (L) proved to be a handy goal scorer.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN

The Dane's return to form after a difficult start to life in Italy was one of the keys to Inter's success in the second half of the season.

The former Tottenham and Ajax midfielder had needed time to adapt to the very tactical Italian league after his arrival in early 2020.

a person on a court: Christian Eriksen (R) gained momentum as the season progressed. © GIOVANNI ISOLINO Christian Eriksen (R) gained momentum as the season progressed.

"Conte and I needed to understand each other better," said Eriksen, 29, who scored a decisive free kick in the Italian Cup against AC Milan, the late equaliser at Napoli, and the first goal in the 2-0 win at Crotone on Saturday which put Inter on the brink of the title.

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Key players behind Inter Milan's 19th Serie A triumph