Welcome to Year Zero

maicon with kids

A team supporter in Italy is usually scared to death to hear that the team is starting a project over. I for one am actually kind of relieved. Something had to be done and with the young coach full of ideas, this seems like a perfect time. I used the word synergy before in a previous article and this seems like another example of it. New coach with different ideas than the previous project, something of a cleaning out of the old project’s foot soldiers, a reshuffling of the front office and the opportunity to enact real change on the financial side of the business.

All this can happen at the same time and there is a real hope that everyone will be on the same page from the get-go. I am a real backer of change for this club. While I didn’t always think so, I now do think that this team needed to change at some positions right after the Champions League win. Namely, the midfield and defense needed to undergo a major overhaul. This last season we finally gave time to young players and took advantage of our suckatude to change the philosophy of our team.

There is a school of thought that a disaster or a time of chaos is also a time of opportunity. For example, a market crash is the time to buy stocks since the prices would be so low. When businesses are failing and laying off workers is the perfect time to start a small business. Tough economic times are the best time to buy houses with low interest rates for loans.

And when a big team full of established stars with boated contracts does poorly, it’s an opportunity to clean house, bring in young, financially healthy, hopefully exciting players.

Departures

Orlandoni, Cordoba, Thiago Motta and parts of Eto’o’s sale all count towards this year’s budget already. Next week I’ll make sure to give Orlandoni and Codroba a proper farewell, but for now, with the transfer market already at full speed, I will just focus on the money aspect of the players.

Zarate and Palumbo’s salaries are now/soon off the books as they have not been redeemed.

But these players are gone – confirmed and processed. This means that all things considered, we are looking at a lot of money freed up. Like over €30 million.

Lucio has stated an intention to leave and we are still awaiting word on whether or not Chivu will accept a contract that more accurately reflects his reduced role at the club. If both players leave, with salaries, bonus and taxes the club could absorb another €20-ish million on top of the sales. Add this to the money that is but aside for transfers every year and the club does have bullets to fire – it’s just that there are so many holes to fill.

And there may be more holes and more bullets. Major questions abound regarding Forlan and Pazzini. Pazzini’s departure would definitely be monetized either as a sale or as part of one of Inter’s famous makeweight deals. Forlan’s departure would be dicey. Inter probably wouldn’t care if he went someplace outside the country. However, giving him a free transfer where a rival could scoop him up. While Forlan didn’t have a great season and maybe he wasn’t a great fit for the team, he has skills and experience.

On top of all these questions and departures, many will have forgotten the former Primavera. Many of these players will be sold or loaned – and for many, the first dime made will be pure profit for the team. The danger is to return to this Destro Mess. What we don’t want to do is to include a player that we will have to pay for later on. I would keep a close eye on how the team deals with Longo. He’s already co-owned with Genoa, and we are potentially doing a lot of business with them.

Incoming

As of May 18, 2012, Inter have 4 players transferred in but have only had to pay for one of them – Jonathan, Freddy. Coutinho and Mariga are coming back from loan.

And that’s it. Essentially the €12-ish million that we got for Motta went to paying for the €11-ish million that Guarin’s card cost. The media all season long has said that Poli needed 15 appearances before his transfer was automatically activated. Sampdoria is now saying that it was supposed to be 25 appearances. According to Inter.it he had 20 total, 18 for the league. Representatives from Sampdoria suggest that Inter will be talking to them about Poli before too long as both Inter and Poli expressed an interest in continuing the relationship. Personally, I think that there might be a good chance for another loan deal with redemption here especially if Sampdoria succeed in making it back to Serie A.

Renewals

There were two renewals that are pretty meaningful. Yuto Nagatomo got a revamped contract that increased his time with the club by a year to 2015 and he almost doubled his salary to €1.2 million. That’s right, the Japanese international was the starting left back for €700,000 for a year and a half including league, Champions League and Coppa games. Either way you look at it,that was a steal. His current contract is quite the bargain too. Compared to other left backs, Naga is hardly the worst and he has only been in the country for 2 seasons now. I think that this is a smart move.

Walter Samuel is also renewed for a one year contract at a reduced cost, or so they tell us. Having Walter back is a no brainer as he is consistently our best central defender. However he is injury prone and there is no telling when he won’t be our best central defender anymore, so the club is very protected by this deal. I also think that this is a smart move.

Chivu as I alluded to above was given a renewal offer but there seems to be a lot of static between his camp and the club. I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming. Chivu has stated again and again his love for the club and his desire to stay the rest of his career. And I give him a lot of credit for that and for playing a position that he didn’t like for two seasons. Having said that, I think his time with the club is over. Naga, who took is old position just got a renewal and a raise. Ranocchia and Juan Jesus were both brought in; there are strong rumors of at least 2 more central defenders coming in and he’s getting a – by all accounts – much reduced contract with reduced length. That the club is willing to let him walk away without compensation is also telling.

Likely Transfers?

The club has been sniffing Lavezzi for a while now and if anything those rumors are getting weaker and weaker. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if that whole thing went away pretty quickly, especially considering the financial power of PSG and their interest in just about every single player that we are interested in.

Much stronger are the rumors surrounding Matias Silvestre, formerly of Catania and currently in Palermo. He said that he wanted to go and the rumor is that he would like to come to Inter. The sticking point is that he cost Zampa about €8 million and won’t likely be let go until that number goes back the other way. I think that there are other teams likely to be in the mix, but everything I have read says that Inter is first in line – remember these are rumors, so who knows.

The English press is pushing De Jong on Inter, not so much Kolarov anymore. I don’t know how strongly to believe these guys. It took them almost 3 years to figure out that Inter wasn’t going to buy Gareth Bale – something everyone who frequents this website could have told them with a Pulitzer Prize worthy explanation as to why it wasn’t going to happen included. Basically, I have learned that if it comes from an English speaking source, like Football – Italia or BS.com - websites where the more outrageous headline is used to get the most shock visits and not necessarily concerned with accuracy - it probably originally was seen in Tuttosport newspaper or Mediaset programs – Juventus and Milan supported media outlets. Believe what they say about Inter at your own risk.

Isla was a rumor that was really strong about a week or two ago and now seems dead. Apparently when Inter were interested in him, no one really had an update on how he was recovering from injury. Now that everyone else besides us seems to be looking for deals, a guy like Isla is appealing. The rumors really started to die down once Udinese has allegedly asked for a fee plus Coutinho. Which is… outrageous to say the least on several levels:

1. I am far from convinced that Isla is worth the money asked of him, let alone a very promising player like Coutinho.

2. Isla is a midfielder/fullback not a game changing forward. A midfielder like Guarin, who has actually already played for a big club and won some meaningful trophies, was just sold for €11.5 million. Conclusion – there are a lot of players who would be worth more than Isla’s sticker price… and oh yeah can walk right now. This deal/rumor should be long dead. I would be irate at any kind of dealing with this club.

Just in the last 24-48 hours there have been rumors of Sahin. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Inter are said to be monitoring Bentia who I think is a very good defender, but he's owned by Udinese - see Isla above.

This seems to be the year that Palacio finally gets transferred to Inter. He’s cut off his stupid rat tail and scored a bucketful of goals for Genoa for the second season in a row. I think this one will happen and I think that this one will have some loans or co-owns plus cash involved. I am praying that full ownership of several youth players isn’t involved – but it certainly proved very lucrative for Genoa in the past, so I think I have reason to worry. Genoa won’t let Palacio go easily or cheaply.

Destro is the rumor that seems to have the most legs. Inter have publically said they want him – he’s said that he would like to come home. Genoa have said that they will sell their half for a price. Plus Genoa is willing to take in compensatory players, which Inter is happy to provide instead of cash. The two clubs already have a co-ownership in Longo and he was considered on the block – but that idea has been poo-pooed by several sources. That doesn’t mean that they are right, but it does make me hopeful. Perhaps forgotten is the fact that both teams have another player c-owned between them named Kucka. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Inter half of Kucka, plus a multi-season loan of Longo and some money were the deal to get Destro. There is a hiccup of course. The other half of Destro is owned by Siena, whom Inter haven’t dealt with yet. The rumor is that Siena would be willing to deal with their old friend Conte of Juventus. But I feel that Inter still have a chance to pull this one out. Conte and Siena are dealing with the current Betting Scandal plus Juventus seem to have put other acquisitions as a priority whereas Inter and Genoa have already met several times for extended talks.

Other rumors that have popped up: Fernando of Porto, Lucas - again, Ntcham, Lichnovsky, Andreolli – again, Paulinho, Cuadrado, Schelotto – again, Grandqvist – I don’t get this one at all.

Orlandoni

If anyone missed it, Paolo Orlandoni wrote an open letter to Inter and her fans upon his retirement. It should be read by everyone. Yeah, that’s a little judgmental and arrogant but it’s a great letter:

"Thank you wonderful Inter!

My heart is still pounding but I wanted to share this emotional story with all of you. I came to Milan at 14 with a suitcase full of dreams, I lived in digs and I was desperate to become a great goalkeeper. After four years in the academy, I began to move around a lot, to gain experience. I played at every level but my heart was always here, at the San Siro, where as a kid I fought to become a ball boy and watch Walter Zenga from up close, especially when he used to get the fans behind him, in the end of the stadium where he too started out.

After various spells all over Italy, I was called back and I almost couldn't believe it as I packed my case for the last time. I was coming home, to Inter. I still remember that day. I was at a Serie B club where I was negotiating a possible deal when I received a phone call and..."Sorry, I have to go, that's where I need to be."

The last seven years have been fantastic, unforgettable. An extraordinary group of players have made footballing history. League titles, Coppa Italias, Super Cups, the Champions League, the Club World Cup.

Thanks go to president Moratti and his wonderful family.

I thank the directors. I'd like to thank all the people who work with and around the squad on a daily basis, those at Appiano Gentile, at the stadium, Inter Campus, Inter Club headquarters and at the Centro Sportivo Giacinto Facchetti.

I thank my team-mates who have always made me feel important, perhaps even overly so. I'd like to thank the coaches, the backroom staff, Professor Combi, the doctors, as well as the masseurs and physios who have...held me together.

I thank Inter fans everywhere. My dream has come true. I won't be the next Walter Zenga but they've always sung my name at the San Siro. I hope I've been able to return that affection, and show that I'm just one of you. The only difference is that I not only love this shirt as a fan, but that I also am lucky enough to play in it.

Now the first chapter is closed. In the second I'd like to realise a new dream, to become a goalkeeper coach. The best part is that I can do it here, at home. So I'll be able to tell future goalkeepers that playing for Inter is a privilege, something to be appreciated every day, it's something which gives you strength.

FORZA INTER forever!"

Paolo Orlandoni

paolo

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