Mercato review: Inter’s crazy summer 2011
So that’s it the transfer window for 2011 and what a summer it has been, unlike last season there has been a lot of movement in and out of Inter. It all started with rumours of Sneijder going to Manchester United for a record transfer fee of €35+ million and the equally amazing rumour that want away Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez was linked with a move to the Nerazzurri. Then the club was thrown in to chaos as the then manager Leonardo was 1st linked with a directors job at PSG which he denied at first and then shortly afterward took it leaving Moratti without a coach, from that point on rumours started flying about possible replacements including Jose Mourinho’s protegé Andres Villas Boas but eventually after being turned down by a hand full of world class coaches Moratti decided on what was the best of the rest Gian Piero Gasperini and so Inter’s transfer window resumed, though another cloud was hovering over Inter, our huge debt and the need to resolve it in time for the FFP’s and so the massive spending of old that Moratti was famous for had to be held in check. That doesn’t mean we haven’t brought in some fantastic players though, while offloading others that weren’t part of the future plan for us or could bring in a healthy profit to help us financially…..
When I wrote my article last season about the rebuilding of the Inter squad I never imagined that we’d be without Samuel Eto’o for this up coming season or that we’d have a coach that insisted on playing a 3 man defence, but I’ll go in to the subject of tactics in another article soon. The first thing I want to point out is that the general opinion amongst Interista is that we’ve had one of the best transfer windows we’ve seen for a long time, even though we are still stuck with a couple of deadwood players in the form of Chivu and Muntari, in my opinion Branca and co should have made more of an effort to move these two on. Considering Sulley’s large wage the job of removing him from the squad should have been a priority, there were a couple of offers for him but Muntari himself declined these, so maybe the powers that be at Inter should have made it clearer that he isn’t needed at the club any more. Now let’s see which of season’s players are no longer part of the Nerazzurri set up.
The legend that is Marco Materazzi will always be a name that will be loved by Interista but this summer saw the veteran defender end his contract with Inter after a decade at the club, the 38 year old ended the transfer window as a free agent, so there is a chance that we will be seeing ‘Matrix’ back at Inter in a behind the scenes position before too long. He made no secret of the fact that he loves our club and also admitted that if he doesn’t find another club to play for then there is already a deal in place for him to join the youth development and scouting team alongside Piero Ausilio, so even though he has gone it most definitely won’t be the last we see of this legend that was included in our line up for the ‘ultimate Inter squad’.
The sale of Sammy Eto’o to Anzhi Makhachkala was probably the most bitter sweet transfer of the summer, on one side his sale will save Inter a reported 90+ million euros over the next 3 years, which is crucial for sorting Inter’s debt and also meant that we could keep our other superstar Wesley Sneijder at the club. But on the other side we have lost one of the greatest strikers in the world who last season scored an awesome 37 goals for Inter and has been a crucial cog in the Inter machine for the past two seasons. In his statement to the club and the fans when he left he admitted that Inter holds a special place in his heart just as the smiling hitman does in ours. As much as Branca and co did a fabulous job of bringing players in this summer, it is my opinion that it will take us a long time to replace Eto’o just as it did years ago when Ronaldo left us, strikers like these are few and far between and can only ever be truly replaced by a player of the same calibre.
In 2007 when he signed for Roberto Mancini’s Inter he was considered one of the most promising strikers in Serie A and there was a buzz about him signing for us, I even got his autograph on my program for that season’s friendly against Manchester United along with Roberto Mancini’s. But as it turned out the buzz was all hype and he ultimately disappointed at Inter scoring just 8 goals in 36 appearances for the Nerazzurri and so he spent the next two seasons on loan at Benfica and Genoa to return to Inter last season and not get a single appearance. So now he has a chance to redeem his career at Catania where he has been given the number 9 jersey, he should be fairly successful at a lesser club but he definitely wasn’t cut out for playing with the big boys and so he had to go.
Obinna was originally signed on a co ownership deal with Chievo in 2005 where he spent the next 3 years, when he moved to Inter in 2008 he was considered to have a bright future ahead of him with Jose Mourinho describing him as “one of Inter’s best talents for the future”, Sorry Mou you got that one wrong! In that season he made just 11 appearances and scored just 1 goal so the next season he was shipped off on loan to Malaga and then last season to the EPL where he played for West Ham. With his contract running out this summer Inter saw no reason to extend and subsequently was released on a free transfer to be snatched up by Lokomotiv Moscow.
Even though the one area of Inter that needed strengthening most was our defence, Branca and Moratti still saw fit to end Rivas’ contract a year early, that in itself should give you a fair idea of how useless this lad was for the Nerazzurri. He signed from River Plate in 2007 for 7.5 million Euros and failed miserably to make a great impact at the club appearing just 28 times since his arrival. In 2008 he injured his knee in the match against Bologna and the next season was sent on loan to Livorno followed last season with another loan to Ukrainian side FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Upon his return to Inter this summer it was decided that the best course of action was for us to cut our loses and release the player from his contract.
Finally we have got rid of Pandev even if it’s just on loan to Napoli, regular readers of my blog and my followers on Twitter will know that I’m not a big fan of the Macedonian, in my opinion his play is slow and clumsy and he spent most of the time on the pitch looking lost. I won’t deny he has scored some important goals for us in his time at Inter for example his last minute goal against Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League that saw us progress in the competition and we mustn’t forget that he was part of Mourinho’s ‘La Grande Inter’ that won the treble, but I have to say the majority of his goals were more a case of being in the right place at the right time than being the result of his skill. And so with all that in mind that I can honestly say I’m happy that he’s gone to Napoli and I just hope that they make the move perminent as I really don’t ever want to see him in the Nerazzurri colours ever again.
The last of our out going players is our young right back Santon who has completed a move to the EPL by signing for Newcastle United. This for me was a pointless sale as Santon was one of our brightest young talents who at just 20 years old had success with both our Primavera squad and the 1st team squad, I was expecting him to go this summer but I was hoping it would be just on loan to give him a bit more experience before returning to a starting place in the Inter squad, but obviously his great performances in our pre season matches weren’t enough to convince the powers that be to keep him on at the club. If it had been my choice I would have made him the rotation player for Maicon and not have bothered signing Jonathan at all, but it wasn’t meant to be and all we can do is wish him luck in his future and hope that one day the young Italian will return to Inter and the Serie A.
So that’s our outgoing players, a few disappointing departures but all in all some good business done by Branca in working towards our targets of cutting the overall wage bill and bringing in funds to clear some debt and bring in new players, speaking of new players, let’s now have a look at the new faces of the Nerazzurri.
The Italian goalkeeper Viviano rejoined Inter from Bologna after Lega Serie A announced the result of co-ownership deals. It was due to an administrative error allowed him to join Inter for a reported fee of €4.2 million. The error came as the Bologna club director Stefano Pedrelli accidentally halved again the initial €4.71 million valuation of the remaining 50% of his contract to bid only €2.33 million in response to Inter’s €4.2 million valuation on the bid submitted to the league office on 24 June. Though technically Viviano should also be on the outgoing player list as since he arrived at Inter a deal has been struck with Genoa in a co ownership deal that will see him moving there in January with Juraj Kucka coming to Inter in his place ( I will discuss this deal in January when they move to their respective clubs) Viviano is out of action injured at the moment after he suffered a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that required surgery so we’re unlikely to him play before his move. Hopefully one day he will return to Inter though as he is seen by many as the ideal replacement for Julio Cesar in the future.
Yuto Nagatomo is a familiar name at Inter as he spent the second half of last season with us on loan from Cesena during which he really impressed with his hard work in defence and fast runs up the wings, the Japanese wingback has proved popular with both his teammates and the fans with his warm friendly personality and his great passion to do well for the Nerazzurri, from the first time I saw him play I could see that he has the potential to be a great player for us, he reminds me of the legendary Brazilian wingback Roberto Carlos and I think he can prove himself to be just as good so I was very happy when I heard the news we had made his move permanent and with our new attacking mentality he should be an important part of the squad in the upcoming season.
Young Luc Castaignos signed from Feyenoord on the 4th of march and was the first of our summer signings this year. For the past couple of years the Dutch youngster has been proving himself in the Netherlands and has impressed so much he is dubbed as the new Thierry Henry. In the preseason with Inter he has impressed me greatly showing good movement and vision, though there have been a couple of occasions that his inexperience against some bigger teams has shown through but all in all he seems to be settling in well with the squad and as he will be right down in the pecking order of Inter’s strikers he should have the time and support to grow in to a fantastic striker in the future.
‘Ricky’ Alvarez was born in to an Interista family in his native Argentina so it seems like destiny that the talented midfielder should sign for Inter. The shy Argentinian that signed from Velez is set to be a shining star off world football and he’s made a bright start in Inter’s preseason working especially well with Joel Obi and Wesley Sneijder in the midfield. It’s not all been perfect from him but he is still a youngster and in a new country so i’m confident that he will make his mark on Serie A and Europe once he has settled in completely. There is a bit of pressure on him as he was the Nerazzurri’s most expensive signing of the summer with a price tag of 11.9 million Euros but as long as he’s given the chance to gel with the squad properly it shouldn’t be long before he’s showing the great trickery and vision that caught Inter’s eye in the first place.
Before his arrival at Inter Jonathan had been dubbed the new Maicon, which at the time was great as there were rumours flying around that the Brazilian wingback would be leaving us shortly for Madrid, but as it happened Maicon is still with us so our new Brazilian wingback is to play back up for him. This has worked out well because from what I’ve seen so far Jonathan could be another one of them players that gets hyped up but can’t deliver the performances, admittedly he arrived injured and has been recovering but in the games he has played for us so far I have to say I’m less than impressed, I don’t want to judge him unfairly and obviously if he proves himself a worthy member of the squad I’ll admit I was wrong, but as it stands at the moment I would have prefered for us to have not signed him and kept hold of Santon instead as I said earlier.
Andrea Poli is one of the most promising young Italian midfielders of his generation who can play both as a defensive player but also more attacking if needed which means he’ll be ideal for Inter not only to rejuvinate the defensive midfield area for us but he will prove invaluable as a deep lying playmaker. The youngster has signed from relegated Sampdoria on a years loan with the option to buy outright next summer if all goes well for him. In an interview Poli admitted that he’s always had a soft spot for Inter and even went to Madrid in 2010 to watch the Nerazzurri win the Champions league final, which for me is a great start when joining our club. I’m looking forward to seeing how he fits in to our squad and to see him playing in our shirt.
Forlan is by far the biggest name to be signed to the Nerazzurri this summer and also the oldest at 32, but that shouldn’t be a problem for a player of his calibre, he has been brought in as Eto’os replacement though I don’t believe he is good enough to be considered as this, don’t get me wrong he’s a great player and will be a fantastic signing for us, he’s just not one of them few strikers that could have replaced Sammy (the only possibility for that would have been Tevez in my opinion) The striker is great at what he does regardless and in his 134 appearances for Atletico Madrid since 2007 he scored an amazing 74 goals and was by far the most impressive player of the 2010 World cup in which he won the Golden Ball. I have to admit before the World cup the only time I’d seen him play was for Manchester United which was a disappointing period in his career so I didn’t have such a great opinion of him, but if he can keep up the form he’s shown in the last 4 years then he will become an important player for us and is likely to be our top scorer in the upcoming season.
Inter’s final signing of the summer comes in the form of Lazio’s promising 24 year old striker Zarate initially on loan but with the option to buy out right. The Argentinian striker/ winger started his career at Velez where one of our other new signings Alvarez came from. Before playing for Lazio he had a loan spell in the EPL with Birmingham where he impressed but they couldn’t sign him due to being relegated so he moved to Lazio in Rome where he impressed but recently has found himself frozen out of the squad, this of course worked to Inter’s advantage in getting hold of the player they wanted and Zarate himself wanted to join us so it was just a case of Branca and Moratti finalising the details. Zarate’s ability to play on the wing will help to fill the gap left by Eto’o and adds a bit of width to the attacking side of our squad.
As well as these sales, loans and signings there have been a few in Inter’s Primavera squad too but I just wanted to concentrate on the 1st team. Inter’s summer project of bringing in talented youth and cutting costs has been a total success in my opinion and Branca, Moratti and our transfer team have done a stunning job in bringing in some of the best young players that want to play for Inter and also an experienced striker in the form of Forlan, not only that they also managed to keep hold of Wesley Sneijder despite the odds of him leaving. Gasperini seems to have also played his part in refreshing the squad by including the best of our Primavera squad in the preseason, by doing so he has managed to do something that has been missing from Inter for a long time, the promotion of several youth players in to the 1st team squad to bolster our defensive line up the most impressive of these being Faraoni and Bianchetti who I thought both played fantastically in the friendlies.
This summer the majority of the larger Serie A clubs have done a great job of strengthening their squads including Inter which can only be a good thing for the future of Calcio so now we can look forward to the start of the season and the first step in making Italian football as presigious as it once was.
Posted on August 30, 2011, in Pre-Season, Transfers and tagged Alvarez, Castaignos, Eto'o, Forlan, Inter, Jonathan, Materazzi, Nagatomo, Nerazzurri, Obinna, Pandev, Poli, Rivas, Santon, Suazo, Transfers, Viviano, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.