Former Inter goalkeeper Marco Ballotta has urged the club to reconsider an approach for Ajax shot-stopper Andre Onana.

The Cameroon international is out of contract in Amsterdam at the end of the season and has been strongly linked with a switch to Inter, as the Nerazzurri seek a long-term replacement for 37-year-old Samir Handanovic.

In an interview with L’, ex-Lazio keeper Ballotta revealed that he was not sold on Onana and felt Inter ought to keep looking for better options.

“Onana is not my prototype goalkeeper, but he has a good experience. I don’t see him as ideal for Inter,” Ballotta declared.

“We need other profiles. We also need to look at the transfer market. [AC Milan’s Gianluigi] Donnarumma moved [to PSG], but you don’t always find such strong options. Inter still have time to test the market and focus on other goalkeepers.

Ballotta, who only hung up his gloves at the age of 44, was keen to defend captain Handanovic amidst criticism for recent performances, and felt that the 37-year-old was far from finished.

“Handanovic is the captain and the starter for Inter, as he should be. [Juventus’ Wojciech] Szczesny was also crucified. We are talking about players of a certain level and experience and they are certainly not at the end of their career, because you are talking to one who played until he was 44 years old. They are still immature compared to me!

“Seriously I think they can still remain at the highest level for a couple more years. He’ll be the first to raise his hand when the time comes. I always say it’s important to improve, but you have to find a better goalkeeper, which is not easy.”

Inter are now under the leadership of Ballotta’s former Lazio teammate Simone Inzaghi and the ex-keeper recalled his first encounter with the striker at the Aquile.

“He arrived at Lazio in 1999, he was a young man everyone spoke well of, Sven-Goran Eriksson chose to take him from Piacenza and bring him to the capital. I would say he did his part, and off the pitch he was happy, we were often together.

“I expected him to become a coach of this level to see him at the time. It happens that one does not give signs of being predestined to be a coach while he is playing. I am pleased because he is showing good things and proving his worth.”

Ballotta claimed that he was a fan of Inzaghi’s style of play but the coach now needed to prove his credentials on the biggest stage after impressing with Lazio.

“I like his ideas but now it needs to be tested with a competitive team. Not that Lazio wasn’t, but with the Biancoceleste he paid the price for having a small squad. I think about the moment, in 2020, when he was at the top to the table until lockdown. At the restart, playing every 3 days, he paid for it.

“At Inter it’s certainly not like that, even if they lost three important players. He can do well, he is already at an important level. It was a question mark to make the leap to Inter, with a new situation compared to Rome, where he was supported by the long acquaintance of Claudio Lotito and Igli Tare. The important thing is that he is given time, but I’m sure it will be like that.”

Inzaghi arrived amidst turmoil at Inter, with former coach Antonio Conte quitting, whilst key players Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi were sold and Christian Eriksen was ruled out after suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. Ballotta felt that his former teammate was handling it well however.

“He handled it well, but the important thing is that the promises made before signing the contract are kept.

“I didn’t expect players of that level to leave. I don’t know if he agreed or not, but I don’t I think so. He didn’t cause controversy though, maybe just a light dig. I’m not saying that he accepts everything, but for him it is important to coach Inter. He will have to be good at making up for the lack of players like Lukaku, Hakimi and Eriksen, because in the long run their absence will be felt.”

The former Modena goalkeeper also offered his thoughts on the title race, and felt that Juventus, Roma, and Atalanta could challenge Inter.

“It is premature to make predictions, many teams have not reached their physical peak. At the moment the situation is that of last year, with Inter ahead for now. The Nerazzurri have a competitive team despite having sold players.

“Juve are not Juve yet, we have to see if it is a temporary issue or if it will continue. They are not playing well, maybe something is missing beyond losing Ronaldo. At the moment it is not the same as a couple of years ago, I think Allegri will fix things, but in the meantime Inter and Atalanta will not wait for him. Let’s see what Roma will do and if the team is up to Mourinho’s standard,” he added.