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Transfer Rater: Juan Mata to Inter Milan

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Inter Milan continue to improve under manager Stefano Pioli

Stefano Pioli has made a number of remarkable decisions that have kept Inter Milan in the league chase.

Stefano Pioli is too polite to tell you but, since taking over as Inter manager, the nerazzurri have collected 37 points from 16 games. Had Inter maintained that rate all season, they'd currently be second, five points behind Juventus.

On Sunday, Inter took on Atalanta, one spot above them in the table and with the third-fewest goals conceded in Serie A. All Pioli's men did was win 7-1, with hat tricks from Mauro Icardi and Ever Banega. It wasn't just a huge win, it was a statement win in front of a 60,000-strong crowd that lights a fire under the club that hasn't really been seen since a certain Jose Mourinho was patrolling the sidelines.

Pioli is nothing like Mourinho and this team has a long way to go before even being in the same conversation as the 2009-10 Treble winners. But what is remarkable is his combination of tactical nous and willingness to make big calls -- he left out Joao Mario and Jeison Murillo at the weekend -- as well as his ability to keep a lid on the controversy and in-fighting that has long accompanied Inter.

Six points separate them from the Champions League spots and it's possible that early-season slips mean that ship has sailed. But, other than the Coppa Italia game against Lazio, there have been very few occasions under Pioli when Inter haven't been competitive or have gotten their approach entirely wrong.

Now all he needs is patience from the club's owners and stability around the club; two things that, in years past, have been in short supply.

For more on Pioli's future at Inter, and to read more of Marcotti's thoughts on what happened over the previous week, click here.