It’s that time of year again. There isn’t a made up story that isn’t too crazy for the newspapers to fly with and declare the gospel truth.
I have been away on a sort of vacation from everything/recharge the batteries/home improvement deal for a week or so and I would like to just jot down some market rumors thoughts and other stuff, seeing as how we Inter bloggers still have the Christmas lights up, figuratively speaking. And really, there aren't any totally stupid rumors out there regarding Inter... other than the first one I am going to talk about.
There is one “football website”, and I use that term extremely loosely, that is desperately trying to sell someone on the Wesley Sneijder to Manchester United deal. As far as I can tell, they are the only ones on this. Last summer this website’s head moron told everyone who would listen that the deal for Wes to ManU was “100%” true and all that was holding up the finalization of a deal was wage demands.
All parties, of course, denied anything of the sort and since then we have learned that not only was there never even an offer by ManU, but any contact the two clubs had this summer was minimal at best.
So now we are supposed to believe that there is another deal germinating out there from ManU for Wesley or from Inter to ManU. You all can believe what you like, but I am going to be very skeptical for two reasons: 1.) Inter are desperate to make a Champions League spot and selling Sneijder doesn't seem like a smart way to get that 2.) until I see something that can be construed as dissatisfaction from Sneijder the way I saw him act when he was heading out of Madrid, only then will I believe that any relationship between the club and the player is an impossibility. Just sayin.
In fact that only way I see this happening at all is if Moratti would come out to the press and say that Wesley's move will fund Tevez's transfer fee. And even then I would wait to make sure it wasn't completely made up. You know, like all the Mario back to Inter rumors lately that everyone involved shuddered involuntarily and disgustedly before saying that it wasn't true.
There is a lot of chatter about Inter and Napoli doing the deal for Lavezzi – which if true would really put me in a bind since I have already proven that I can’t tell him apart from Zarate.
I don’t think that I have to worry any though. I don’t think that there will be any Lavezzi to Inter while Zarate is part of the team. That is to say, it will happen in the summer if it’s going to happen.
The story behind this deal is thus: Inter and Napoli have developed a nice little working relationship during the time that Inter have been lusting after Hamsik – so for the last three seasons or so. Moratti has made a couple of respectful calls to Napoli’s chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis regarding the player. Aurelio was very appreciative of the respectful manner that Moratti went about inquiring after Hamsik, especially considering that Milan pissed him off by either talking straight to the player or his agent or declaring interest to the newspapers without consulting him. Anyhoo, they bypassed him completely in the process and it pricked his rather thin skin.
Aurelio made a declaration about how above board Moratti was and a nascent friendship was born. Inter loaned Pandev to Napoli and rumor has it that Inter backed off the Vargas deal to Napoli for a future consideration. There is also a rumor that Lavezzi isn’t as happy in Napoli as he had been in the past and that an exit would suit him well.
However, there are a lot of factors that might hamstring this deal. Napoli is fighting on as many fronts as Inter are this season and they are going to need all hands, especially up top. Also, Napoli has been running a lean operation since it came back up from Serie B. Not only have they been able to achieve a lot on a wage budget of around 40 million if La Gazzetta can be believed, but they are looking at a very nice payday – I would guess around 20 - 25 million at least - this season for making the knockouts of the Champions League.
If there were any team that has less incentive to sell for any reason, it’s Napoli. They need all hands, they don’t need the money this season and their players are getting a chance to play in the CL. Only Lavezzi wanting to leave and then only Lavezzi wanting to come to Inter would make this deal happen in June. He’s a very good player, I hope it happens.
All this means that Zarate won’t be signed on permanently in June. This wouldn’t be a surprise to me. Anyone who has paid attention during the liveblogs of the games where I am present knows that I think a player like Zarate would do well with Pazzini, but that I am not sold on Zarate himself.
The Elusive Midfielder
Since September, everyone, including me, has been talking about how poorly a job Inter has done in reinforcing the midfield department of this team when they had the chance this past summer. There has been a legion of names to come down the pike, central midfielders, wide midfielders, attacking midfielders, defensive midfielders, attacking wingers: Kucka, Farfan, Strootman, Ramirez, Parolo, Krasic, Lucas, and De Rossi are most of the names that circulated this winter. Here’s the issue, though: Obi, Faraoni, Coutinho and Alvarez have made believers out of Moratti and Branca. Does Inter still need a big name at midfielder or can we make do with these youths plus Cambiasso, Motta, Sneijder and Stankovic?
Kucka, last season, was a machine running up and down the field in attack and defense – plus he was Gasperini’s boy that Branca liked as well. Well, Gasperini crashed and Kucka thought that he was already wearing black and blue, which made him think that he didn’t have to try as hard as what made him an attractive player in the first place.
I think that we can eliminate the Farfans and Strootmans of the world right now and say that Inter aren’t in the market for either one.
Parolo is 26, but Inter really like the way he defends and then blitz into the counter and support the attack. If there were a model of what Inter are looking for in a midfielder but can’t find its Marco Parolo. And Inter are already laying down the tracks to make Cesena a friend. A week ago I mentioned in the comments section a youth that Inter are co-owning with Cesena from central Europe. Inter are considering a loan or two to Cesena. Also, Cesena is deep in the drop zone and Parolo is their second highest paid player after Mutu – he might have to be sold in order for Cesena to save money after the drop. There looks like an opportunity here if all the pieces fall right.
Ramirez is another problem altogether. Bologna and Inter have a terrible relationship that goes back a long time. Decades ago, these two teams were rivals in the standings. More recently, the previous owners of Bologna were friends with Juventus and even more specifically very good friends with Moggi. After those people ran Bologna into the ground and were bought out by the current owners, the new management royally screwed up their chance at getting Viviano on the cheap. Bologna and Inter couldn’t agree on a price for the second half of the goalkeeper and went to the envelopes. Bologna’s man in charge of that procedure misfiled some paperwork and now Viviano looks like the heir apparent to the perceived unreliable and very expensive Cesar.
All that aside, Ramirez is a player that Inter desire very much – as do most other clubs in Serie A. Oddly, Ramirez isn't quite as respected back in Uruguay where there are several doubts still on him. However, he’s only 21ish and there is a lot of promise in him which is why the Uruguay National Team still call him up and why Inter are hoping to mend fences with Bologna. I wouldn’t be surprised if Inter either sent several players on loan in Bologna – again, Krhin is still there, I think – or if Inter helped to smooth the way for Bologna to get Ramirez’s replacement, another young midfielder from abroad.
A player like Krasic is one of those things that the media like to bring up whenever there is a new coach somewhere. We have all been there before and I hope that we all understand what will actually happen. Inter, in recent memory, have been extremely resistant to bringing in players from a coach's former team or players that coach might have a connection with from another team. Mancini, technically, didn't get any players from his former team. Mourinho didn’t get any of his former players. Benitez didn’t get players from his former team. Neither did Leo. Ditto Gasperini. And Ranieri won’t get his either. End of story.
Both Lucas and his club have said that he won’t move until the summer. Chelsea is the other club that is in serious competition for the player besides Inter and it looks like they are upping the ante. I say, let Chelsea have him. The track record of South Americans in England is so bad that it’s almost a guarantee that he and Chelsea will part ways bitterly and cheaply with him wanting to prove that the debacle wasn’t because he was a bad player.
All of this brings us to De Rossi. De Rossi’s contract is up in June which means that he can negotiate with other teams. If Old Man Sensi was still the owner of Roma, Moratti would chase other suitors of the midfielder/defender away and demand that everyone let Roma re-sign him, such was the friendship of these two men. This wasn’t the case with the daughter and it certainly isn’t the case with the new owners. This means that De Rossi, a player that Moratti has been in love with for a long time, is now, essentially, on the market. It’s all up to De Rossi and his wishes. If he wishes to stay at Roma, and this is very likely, then that’s it. If De Rossi is willing to listen to others, then I am willing to bet that Moratti will get his pitch in. As a midfielder, De Rossi is mostly valuable as a defensive midfielder – his best years, in my opinion, were as one of the “2” in a 4231 where he drops back into coverage when the fullbacks release to join the attack. If this were 30 years ago De Rossi could have been a great sweeper or center defender, but the changes in the game have decreed that the sweeper goes in front of the defense and is called a defensive midfielder. That plus his ability on the ball nowadays put him at midfielder where I don’t think he’s as good as he could have been.
Either way, if he doesn't re-sign he'll soon to be on a free and can negotiate with anyone. Personally I think he’ll sign with Roma, but I don’t think that too many would cry if he came over here and played with the same intensity and ability he’s played with at Roma. If he came here with the attitude of cashing a check, then he can stay at the capital. But he is one of the big names on the market and if Inter want to make a splash, this could be a way to do it.
The Tevez situation is really the only one to pay attention to this winter. Where this messed up little man goes is nothing short of a soap opera. Milan says that they have a deal with the player. Unfortunately they don’t have a deal with the club with whom they are at loggerheads. Milan want a loan, Man City want the player gone for a price. One would expect that the team wouldn’t mind loaning the player out if no one wants to buy him outright if for no other reason than to take the salary off their books for one year.
This is where Inter have stepped in, according to rumor. Milan won’t/can’t buy Tevez and it’s certainly in their best interest this season if no one else does. Inter are willing to discuss a price because forward is now the primary concern for the team after the young midfielders have stepped up to show that they can be competitive. One half of the hierarchy at Inter believes that they need a game changer and that Tevez is it; the other doesn’t really want to pay for it and is probably happy that the team is sort of coming together with a minimum of drama for once.
Having weirdos at any position isn’t a new idea here in Interland. Remember, we had Ibra and Balotelli playing at the same time. We had Bobo for his best years and Ronaldo was here once upon a time. Recoba and Materazzi for gods’ sake! We know that we can handle insanity. The trick is, if Inter goes for this they need to protect themselves. That means low years and lots of bonus on the contract. It wouldn’t hurt to get Tevez blackballed from all the nearby Country Clubs with a decent golf course as well.
The real question is whether Tevez can do the job and I think he can. I think he’s batshit crazy, but he can score goals by the bucketful. I also think it’s telling that neither Javier nor Esteban are exactly calling on Moratti to bring him or calling Tevez to come over.
Okay, last bit and if you’ve read this far without yawning or cursing me than you have my thanks. If you have been cursing me and yawning, then… oh well better luck next time.
The one piece of certainty that we have for this winter is that Juan Jesus is coming to Milan in less than a week. First of all let’s get his full name: Juan Guilherme Nunes Jesus. Forget that, he’s now Juan since the former Juan is kind of gone. Everybody got that? Good let’s move on.
So who is Juan? He’s a 20 year old defender/left back who played with… Internacional. That’s right, he played for Inter and now he plays for Inter, how freaky is that? Juan has a list of accomplishments that caught the eye of Branca no doubt: Copa Libertadores, South American Youth Championship, FIFA U20 World Cup champion. Also what caught Branca's eye was the fact that Internacional was going broke and sold their defender for what constitutes extremely low risk for Inter – somewhere around €3.5 - 4.0 million. There is no word on his salary but I would bet on less than €1 million.
That’s great but what does this mean for the team and what kind of player is he? Well, it means that you can see Lucio and Samuel for maybe 1 more season. Ranocchia will be taking a larger role and Juan will be definitely in the mix considering the money spent. Lucio signed a 2 year extension a year ago and it doesn’t look like he’s quite done yet, but there are rumblings that he would like to go back to Brazil soon. Samuel is the only one of the players who are out of contract this summer that will be re-signed and the rumor is that he’ll sign for one year and for significantly less than his last contract. I haven’t seen anything reliable about what kind of defender he is, so it’ll be a surprise to me when I see him for the first time.
Here's the meaningless youtube video:
The plan to get younger and faster continues…