With the international break still upon us I thought that I would like to look at and have some discussion on the back 4 of our team – not counting JC, of course. We already started talking about it on Monday, so I thought we could expand the discussion a little more and really go at it in depth.
Besides, what else are we going to do until the games start back up again.
The current starting back 4 look like, from right to left: Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu.
The current centerback subs are: Chivu, Cordoba and Materazzi.
The current fullback subs are: Zanetti and Santon.
We may see some changes in both of these departments next summer. Several rumors point to Inter scouting younger centerback talent. Considering the average age of the centerbacks on roster, this is a must. Persoanlly, I see Mourinho or Moratti telling Materazzi that he is no longer in the plans of the club in the same way that Cruz was gently told that other pastures may have better grazing. I don’t see Materazzi going on a transfer – although, stranger things have happened – I do see him, sad to say, retiring.
Unfortunately, the same thing might happen to Cordoba. As much an asset, and as much a servant of the club as he has been, I think that he has several things going against him.
The first is his age. He’ll be 34 at the beginning of next season, which isn’t ancient for a player at his position, but it’s pretty damn close. Inversely, this factor might also be in his favor as Moratti’s well known sentiment may stay the chop.
The second is that his playing style doesn’t suit the current strategy of the manager. Cordoba is still an excellent man-marker. But Mourinho, as I stated in the first tactics talk, likes to pressure high up in the midfield when on defence, which is one of the reasons he okayed the Lucio transfer. Lucio intercepts passes from the opposing midfield or defence up to the forwards, many times cutting out the danger before it starts. Cordoba’s strength is chasing down the forwards once that pass has been made, usually deep in our own third.
The third thing Cordoba has going against him is his build. Mourinho has a history of preferring big defenders. Cordoba is a tough little nut, but his slight build isn’t what Mourinho prefers.
With all this going against him, does Cordoba have a chance of staying on the team? Yes, in fact he does. The truth is, any newcomer that the team brings in might take time to settle in, or may never settle in. If this is the case, then having an emergency player with a proven track record like Cordoba does is a treasure. And that fact alone might save him for another year.
Okay, Materazzi leaves, Cordoba stays, and who comes in to fill the bench? I don’t know. I don’t have a name that I heard is on the scout list. We used to have a player that we sent out on loans named Fatic that there was some buzz about but we sold him to Genoa as part of the purchases we made this summer. Last season we had a primavera player named Andrea Mei on the team that we sent out on loan this season to Crotone I think. Current primavera players that I have heard – very little, as is the SOP with Primavera players for this team - about are Esposito, Giocomelli and Riggione. I couldn’t tell you if all of those players were centerbacks, just that there was some praise for them from someone at the club.
If I were in charge, who would I go after? Some names come immediately to mind:
Radu, the 22ish year old Romanian centerback who currently is on Lazio’s roster, is someone I have a good feeling about. He’s a little green and he doesn’t really play much for them, but I think that he fits into what Mourinho wants to do with the back line. The thought of Mourinho molding him into a Chivu/Lucio/Carvalho hybrid is pretty damn exciting. Unfortunately for me, I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.
I also like the way Canini plays for Cagliari. He’s 24 and he looked like he has half a brain with which Mourinho can start to change him into the kind of player he needs. Canini looked amazing 2 years ago, but he dropped off a little last season. At his position, his prime will probably be around 28 or 29 so he has some time to grow into a good player.
Ranocchia, a Genoa player on loan to Bari looks like he has some talent also. But he doesn’t have as much playing time as Canini and Radu have.
I would love to hear some names from the rest of you guys, though. I think that we all know that the usual suspects of FM wannabe’s like us are Bocchetti, Gamberini, Santacroce, Kjaer and Zapata. Are there any other players that we are more likely to get as a transfer?
Of course, as I write this there is a renewal of rumors that we are interested in Kjaer. I still don’t see it, but I wouldn’t be adverse to the situation if it happened to work out in our favor.
Our fullback situation is a little different. I have gone on record as saying that Macion is gone at the end of this season. This would leave us with Chivu, Santon and Zanetti, whose midfield days would probably be over, as our possible fullbacks. Obviously we would need reinforcements, but I would be damned if I can think of another fullback that would play regularly in this company.
The type of player that Mourinho is looking for would be very technical and like to push up the field to overlap the midfielders who would pull back, pinch in and hold 10 meters in front of the midfield line. In other words, whatever he’s looking for in a defender, take the opposite of that to look for a fullback.
Zambrotta, Grosso, Oddo, Santon, Criscito, Molinaro and Motta are really the Italian templates for this type of player, but there just isn’t enough talent to go around. But none of these guys are Maicon, either. Criscito and Santon are better defenders than the rest and are pretty decent going forward, but I wouldn’t call them attacking threats. Besides, however good they will be defending or attacking, it’ll happen years from now. Zambrotta and Oddo are fading fast as age catches up to them. Molinaro doesn’t really impress me too much either technically, attacking or defending, but he does run the whole game, I will give him that. Grosso, in my opinion, still has the magic going forward, but he’s only barely decent as a defender. I just don’t know what to think of Motta yet. Part of me wants to say that there is a lot of talent there, but the other part of me can’t find it when I watch him play.
So who’s available to buy, if anyone? Again, I would have to rely on someone giving me a few names. I can think of one or two players who have impressed me a little, but no one that I feel is ready to compete with Zanetti, Santon and Chivu. If we were to try to sign a guy like Zapata, this is where we could convince him that there is room to play – assuming he is interested in playing fullback. But truth be told, not only am I not really enamored with Udinese’s defence, he’s not really a defender to my liking.
Although, I would be lying if I said that Zuniga from Napoli doesn’t interest me a little. I don’t think that he’s playing in the right system for him in Napoli and he’s young enough to grow into the role, but at the same time, he has some experience. As I said, I think he’s a little intriguing.
I don’t know a whole lot about Philipp Lahm, who plays on Lucio’s old team Bayern Munchen except that he is very short. Ditto Marcell Jansen, who is very tall and plays for Hamburger SV. Both of these players are young and supposedly good attackers. But no one comments on how they defend – which to me is something that is important to know. As far as transfer fee goes, I think that Lahm is more expensive than Janson, although I don’t know by how much. Janson was transferred from Munchen to Hamburger for less than 10 million Euros. I would love for anyone who has seen these two play to comment about their game.
Okay, so I hope that this keeps the juices flowing while we await actual games after this international break.