Training has started for the World Champs at Pinzolo, northeast of Milan in the Italian Alps close to both Austria and Switzerland, where I hear you can get a great deal on bulk SIM cards.
Anyway, there are 10 Inter players on the official roster as of this minute who were born in 1990 or after. In other words, there are at least 10 Inter Babies on the roster, most of whom we haven’t seen on the senior squad before. This is a little primer for those players and I’ll even include Alvarez, even though he’s born before 1990, since he’s in Milan right now and just has to take a physical and sign on the line before he can start training.
Just for the record, there seems to be inordinate number of players for Inter who are 187cm… far more than would be expected from a completely random sample. I think that this is an example of the team, like every other sports team does, fudging the stats a bit.
Name: Francesco Bardi
Born: Jan 18, 1992 (19)
Height: 1.87cm (6’ 1 ½”)
Bardi played 95% of his youth career at Livorno and started a senior game for them after their fate was sealed in 2009-2010 and were sent to B. He came to Inter in Jan of 2011 and was immediately inserted into the Primavera team that won The Viareggio Tournament and finished 3rd in the Primavera standings. Bardi has been a part of the U-National teams from U17 up to the U21 which he debuted for in March.
Chances are that he won’t be here in September but it’s worth keeping an eye out considering he really opened eyes this season with the Primavera and the drama surrounding Viviano.
Name: Davide Santon
Born: Jan 2, 1991 (20)
Height: 1.87cm (6’ 1 ½”)
I don’t think that I really have to spend too much time on Santon, do I? Maybe I will just to make up for forgetting all about him in the end of the season wrap up that we did… Davide was a member of Ravenna’s youth set up until 14 years old whereupon he signed a youth contract with Inter. He was called up to the senior squad in September of the 2008-2009 season but did not play until mid Jan when he made his debut against Roma in a Coppa Italia game when the injury plague hit the team and Mourinho was looking for coverage.
Santon would go on to finish the season as a major member of the team in both Serie A and Champions League games. His second season at Inter started as he had left off until he hurt his knee and was out until January. After a short while Santon reinjured himself and he was gone essentially for the rest of the season. Last season he was used off and on by Benitez in the beginning of the campaign and gradually saw more time but not necessarily as a fullback as he jumped positions quite a bit. At some point the decision that he wasn’t being used enough came down from the front office and Santon was sent out on loan to get more playing time.
With Cesena, Santon saw 11 appearances, with his performances considered – by someone else, I didn’t see them - to range from meh to good.
As of right now, Santon is on the team and as far a I know, he’s training with the team. It’s hard to remember that he’s only 20.5 years old because we have been talking about him for a while now, but he’s still very young and he’s still a mainstay with the National team, currently he’s been hanging out with the U21s, but he does have 7 appearances with the seniors also. There has been talk of Santon going out on loan again, but I can’t possibly believe that the team has given up on him so early.
Name: Felice Natalino
Born: March 24, 1992 (19)
Height: 187cm (6’ 1 ½”)
Natalino originally came from the Crotone youth system. He was sold to Genoa in 2008 and was loaned to Inter. Since 2009 he’s been co-owned between the two teams. I forget right at this moment if we bought him outright yet.
He’s considered a versatile central defender who can also play fullback, but more of a traditional fullback – one who defends more than attacks. He’s been in 3 senior games, 2 Serie A and one Champions League - yes, you guessed it, Werder Bremen. He’s been involved in the U17 side and he’s been called up to the U21 side. He’s certainly has got promise and he seems to be coming into his own at just the right time to show his promise. I think he’s still eligible for the Primavera, so he might actually be doing double duty this season.
Name: Marco Davide Faoroni
Born: October 25, 1991 (20)
Height: 180cm (@5’ 11”)
If there is a player that I have no clue about in this little write up, it’s this one. I do know that he came up through the ranks at Lazio where he was very highly thought of and he was doing the double duty of practicing with the senior and primavera teams. I think he was called to the bench for Lazio, but I don’t think he made the field. I know that we bought his card last summer. I know that he did a great job for the Primavera squad, from various reports. I know that he was called up the U21 squad. He made the bench last May for Inter. That’s all I got. Anyone have any more on him, I would appreciate the data.
Name: Luca Caldirola
Born: February 4, 1991 (20)
Height: 1.89 (6’ 2 ½”)
Luca joined Inter in 1999 and has been with the team since then. He was the Captain of the Primavera 2 seasons ago and was sent out on loan to Vitesse, in the Dutch First Division last season where he made 12 appearances, mostly at the end of the season, I think. Caldirola has been a mainstay of the Italian U-National team starting from the U16 up to and including the U21 whom he debuted for in November.
Currently half his card has been sold to Cesena as part of the Yuto Nagatomo sale. It seems like there is a lot of “is he? Or isn’t he?” when it comes to Caldirola. That he’s been on the U-National teams is a big plus for Inter. That he’s been a spot performer for a top level team in Europe at the age of 19-20 is also pretty good. That he was able to do it in a League that demands a lot of technical skill like the Eredvisie also says a lot about him, I think. Personally, it would be a shame if he was sold off so close to showing the team what he can actually do. His resume says that he should be an adequate backup at least. I know that there are a load of teams lined up to loan this puppy out. I would stay tuned on him.
Name: Joel Obi
Born: May 22, 1991 (20)
Height: 177cm (Just under 5’ 10”)
We know a lot more about Joel Obi than we do about a lot of the others I talked about so far. In the end of the season report both Johonna and I both wondered why this kid didn’t get more chances considering the fact that he did so well when given half an opportunity.
It may be that he gets more opportunity sooner rather than later. Joel’s agent was interviewed lately and while I don’t have it handy with me right now, the gist was that Joel was ready to go on loan this summer, but Inter have decided that they were going to ask for Joel’s presence at training. Considering Gasperini’s style of play, Joel might be a very good fit. He’s energetic and he’s quick. Plus, I recall seeing Joel getting down and dirty in the defensive end of the ball. I think he can play outside and inside which will bode well for the young man this season. I hope to see more of him, but I am curbing my expectations realistically. He’s a sub. But I think he can play a little.
Name: Lorenzo Crisetig
Born: January 20, 1993 (18)
Height: 180cm (Just under 5’ 11”)
If there is a jewel in the crown of Inter’s Primavera this is it. Lorenzo has just turned 18 and he broke Macheda’s record for the youngest player to appear for the U21 squad when he was 16+. He was a member of the Inter Primavera squad (U20 team) last season while he was 17-18 years old – and a Viareggio participant and winner. He’s listed in the Inter website as a midfielder but I know he plays as a defender too. I think the team has higher hopes for Crisetig than they did for either Mario or Davide.
I think that there is no doubt that Crisetig will be used in the double duty of Primavera and senior training with the occasional call up. But I think it’s worth being aware of him now so that during the friendlies coming up we can keep an eye on him.
Name: Philippe Coutinho
Born: June 12, 1992 (19)
Height: 172cm (5’7”)
Coutinho is a good problem to have. He plays in essentially the same position that Wes Sneijder does, so there is going to be some restrictive forces on his ability to get on the field. Also, he’s a little shrimpy and he gets pushed around a lot. And his shot is quite suspect in both power and accuracy.
But he’s got incredible technical skill. He’s a nifty runner and passer able to fit himself and the ball in tight spaces that no one expects it to go. He’s got a very good engine when he’s on the field and he’s willing to come back to help on defense. He’s willing to play outside as well as inside. And he’s getting better. It’s a quantum leap from September of last season to April. Coutinho won’t be available for a lot of the summer brouhaha because of his commitments and injury rehab in Brazil.
Coutinho appears to have made the personal transition from Brazil to Italy very well. I think his football got better last season from beginning to end. If he can continue that good adjustment and improvement… this young man has the technical skill and the vision to be a very good attacking midfielder.
Name: Ricky Alvarez
Born: April 12, 1988 (23)
Height: 188cm (6’2”)
The book on Ricky Alvarez is that he’s a complete midfielder and can play as a DM, CM, R/LM and AM. The reasoning that is given for this flexibility is that he’s supposedly technically very sound and supposedly he has a very good understanding of tactics and what his role in a given situation with a team is.
Wonderful, right? Well, he does have a few tarnishes to his shine. He’s considered to be slow – there’s no way to know if he’s too slow for the modern European game. Also, he’s considered to be injury prone due to a slight build. That is, we can expect other teams to bump him and jostle him at every turn until he can prove that he can handle the rough and tumble world of European football.
His price of €9 million with 3 million more in conditional bonus is also considered a little high for his experience. Remember he was mostly a sub – a good sub for a very good and extremely well organized side… but a sub nevertheless – and he needs to grow into the Italian game and there is no guarantee that’s going to happen. Plus, he already 23, so if he’s going to grow into the Italian game it better happen relatively soon.
Name: Denis Alibec
Born: January 5, 1991 (20)
Height: 180cm (Just under 5’ 11”)
One half of the star studded duo who took Viareggio by storm last season, Denis is now, for however long it lasts, a member of the Inter senior squad. His former partner, Simone Dell’Angello was sent on loan to Livorno. I would expect that Denis joins him on loan as well, however, Denis is worth watching while he is a member of the senior team. The left footed Romanian forward has been very prolific in the Primavera ranks lately giving many people the idea that he’s out grown it and ready for the step up, rather than being forced to leave because of his age. Alibec has shown that he can play wide on the forward wing as well as through the middle.
Alibec came to Inter in 2009 from Farul Constanta and has been a part of the Romanian U-National teams since the U17 level to his current home in the U21s.
Name: Luc Castaignos
Born: September 27, 1992 (18)
Height: 188cm (6’2”)
At 18 Luc was already something of a regular on his old team Feyenoord. In two seasons he made 30 appearances and scored 15 goals. All the appearances less three and all the goals occurred in this last season, specifically later in this last season. Luc is most closely associated with Thierry Henry in playing style, although Luc prefers to think of himself as his own man. Luc has shown to be quick and explosive. He’s a prototypical striker and to look at him, I swear I was looking at a thin, freakishly young and coltish Adriano.
The only catch is that I have no idea if he can use his head. He seem to have some feel for the goal too, as some of his goals look like A Milito Special from two seasons ago – that is, just get a body part on the ball so that it’s on goal and past the keeper.
Luc has been a part of the U- 17 and the U-19 National teams. With the U-19s he has 14 appearances and 9 goals.