With Italy out and never going to root for the US, who do I cheer as the World Cup progesses? I can’t cheer for any of the South American teams, even if I wish certain players good fortune. I inevitably root for TLOETSA, or The Least Objectionable European Team Still Alive. Actually… that’s not really a great acronym is it? I’ll come up with something. Anyhoo, this World Cup I have decided it’s the Dutch. I usually hate the Dutch, more because their supporters rather than the team. But in the last few years, I think that they have toned it down a little. I hope, anyway.
Well, I was thinking about the mess that Inter’s summer has rather turned into. Not that I am too broken up about it as I am still riding the high of last season pretty well, I have to say.
Position by position, this is what the team is looking like, as of today, as far as I know. I, myself, need a running commentary to keep everything straight and I thought that this might be helpful for someone else.
Julio Cesar, Luca Castellazzi and Paolo Orlandoni will be the goalkeepers for the next season. Francesco Toldo retired and is rumored to be welcomed into the front office after just shy of a decade of service to the club.
In the youth sector, Vid Belec has been loaned to Crotone and Emiliano Viviano has been left in a co-own situation at Bologna for another season. Andrea Bavena, 20, goes to Portogruaro.
Walter Samuel and Lucio will definitely be on the team. There has been no movement for Christian Chivu, but he has stated that he would follow Mourinho if he called – and I don’t blame him a bit. Chivu was left out to dry by Spalletti’s haphazard defense and was never given a defined position by Mancini but he was given direction and encouragement from Mourinho. Marco Materazzi and Ivan Cordoba have been alternatively rumored to be retiring and returning for the next season. Cordoba has also been rumored to have been an interest of Fiorentina.
Andrea Ranocchia has been rumored to already be half of Inters and also a future half of Inter’s at the same time. Since there has not been anything on the official website – in my mind he isn’t any part ours, but Branca himself has said that talks were starting. If Inter do take half of Ranocchia, it will be guaranteed that he will stay at Genoa for at least until January so he can rehab and then play back into fitness – something he wouldn’t have a chance to do at Inter. Any other center defender attached to joining the club has long been debunked.
Last and least Roma still haven’t figured out that Inter want cash for Nicola Burdisso. The latest round of negotiations as of this typing has shown that Inter are still holding firm in their valuation of around 10 million Euros. And good for them. Considering the stink that the Roma ownership and front office made in January about transfers and their own ineffectualness in May, they need to be taught a lesson. Either way, Burdisso will be dealt with. The team (and I was dancing in the street at the time) tried to deal him 2 years ago, but he was dumb and stubborn. Now he wants to go. Maybe he should have listened.
Youth movement in the defense has been in full swing in direct contrast to the senior squad. Giulio Donati has already been sent on co-ownership to Lecce. Luca Caldirola has been loaned to Dutch team SBV Vitesse. Andrea Mei, 21, has joined Piacenza. Odds are even that Antonio Esposito leaves as well or resumes work with the Primavera. Marco Davide Faraoni, a 19 year old defender, has just been announced as a new member of Inter’s Acedemy from Lazio.
Davide Santon and Javier Zanetti will be back next season. Everyone knows that Maicon’s agent has been working like a fiend to get his player to Real. Inter have held firm at 35 million Euros for his price tag. Maicon’s agent has begged and raged at Inter to be reasonable and accept less with a player in exchange – anything that will get the deal done and him his pound of flesh. Inter have said over and over that they don’t have any intention of giving discounts. Personally, I am grateful that they haven’t been the pushovers that others have been with Real considering this is the 2nd summer in a row that they are doing battle. Branca has stated that there has been no formal offer from Real as of yet. Anyhoo there have been a legion of replacements that are rumored to be joining the club, but they are all smoke until Maicon finally decides what he wants to do and whether or not Real want to negotiate seriously.
Personally, I think that if Real don’t want to pay 35 million for him, then they should stop fucking around and ruining everyone else’s summer. We all know that they can afford it. We all know that club debt for Real (and Barca for that matter) isn’t the same thing that it is for the rest of teams – in that they can just decide not to pay anything back. Honestly, they are like ants at a picnic. Everyone hates them, their very existence is annoying and their actual presence can ruin a nice day.
And Barca aren’t very much better… right Ibra?
The midfield news is better than the defensive news. As of right now Cuchu Cambiasso, Deki Stankovic, Thiago Motta, Wes Sneijder and Mac Mariga will be there at Match Day 1. We got rid of dead weight Louis Jimenez (who we were going to pawn off on Parma anyway), Ricky Quaresma and Patrick Vieira. Amantino Mancini is definitely on his way out.
The only question marks are Sully Muntari and Rene Krhin. There has been a lot of interest in Krhin this summer and competing rumors have him going to either Bologna or Genoa. My ideal would be to have him stay in house but, we might be way past that point, I think. We are expected to win now and the learning curve of a player like Krhin would be a fearsome thing. I see him moving soon, dammit. Muntari is also rumored to be leaving, but I still maintain that he has a role here. First he is left footed and that is something that we need. Secondly he is a known entity; we know that we can win with him (in spite of him?), even if he has spasms of insanity at times.
Javier Mascherano is the big name that is rumored to join the club. Mascherano has a good relationship with Benitez, apparently and he says that he would be happy to join the Argie contingent at Inter. Talks have been rumored to have stalled until Roy Hodgson took over the Liverpool job. Roy has an excellent relationship with Moratti – even if Liverpool has a strained one with Benitez – and talks are once again on. More recently a much more sane rumor has Inter interested in Angelo Palombo of Sampdoria. I love this idea because Palombo is a leader, a professional and can play both going forward and backwards. He’s also 28… a little older than one would hope, but not too old either. There are other’s but I think that these two are the least nuts.
Youth movement in the midfield is relatively light. Luca Tremolada, 19, moves to Piacenza. Alen Stevanovic is on his way to Bologna. Remember how I said that we will work hard to re-establish relations with Bologna? Alen is a first step and I expect at least one more to go. As of right now, Joel Obi is set to start training with the senior squad.
The attack is the most stable of all the positions at Inter. Diego Milito, Samuel Eto’o, Mario Balotelli and Goran Pandev all are, as of this moment, set to return and they together make a "fearsome" foursome.
There are rumors – mostly coming from other teams – which has Mario as an option to leave. According to Moratti, all players are subject to the market… for the right price. Mario’s is in excess of 40 million. Branca has said that Mario has no price tag.
But there are some additions to the group. As of this typing, Mr. Right, Mattia Destro is scheduled to start training with the senior group. Philippe Coutinho has been rumored to NOT be sent to Chievo for seasoning, which is something of a tradition we have with our youngsters. And Jonathon Biabiany has also returned from a productive season at Parma. It’ll be interesting to see how we incorporate these young players into the group. My first guess is that Mattia will be sent out on loan and Philippe will cool his heels in the Primavera.
But wait, that’s not all. Andrea Lussardi, 18, and forward Matteo Colombi, 16 have both joined Inter’s Academy this summer from Piacenza.
Whew… I think that’s all of it, as of right now. I will update as the situation calls for it.
-- Sometime during the season I said that I thought that we will say goodbye to 6 players before the summer runs out. Vieira is officially gone, Mancini is almost gone, Quaresma is gone and Toldo has retired. Muntari will probably go and Maicon is in the sights of Real. That’s 6 players assuming that one bets with the odds. Will Marco and Ivan be back next season? Mourinho wanted a streamlined squad… but my goodness is this idea being taken a little too far. We all know that we probably will take a midfielder and at least one defender before September hits… but I hope they get here before September.
-- Regarding the movement of Bonucci to Juventus. It’s sad to see what promises to be a decent player move on when he was once a part of the club, but it was necessary. We sent something like 5 or 6 players to Genoa to bring the cost of Milito and Motta down to manageable levels and the only one, so far, that we missed diagnosed was Bonucci… that’s not a bad record. It’s also a certainty that he wouldn’t have played at all if he was here last season nor would he have played much if he was here this one. In fact he probably would have been sent to another Serie B team. However, before people start wailing too loudly about Bonucci, he has only had one good season. That isn’t to say that he’s not a good player, but let’s see how he does in the next 2 or 3 seasons at a high pressure club like Juventus before we bemoan his loss. Last season, Bari was a pretty defensive team who didn’t risk much going forward and who weren’t expected to accomplish much either. Juve will be expected to win, score and will be under constant media scrutiny. It’ll be a different world to say the least.
-- Guaranteed to be right prediction – Someone is going to have the tournament of their life at a position that everyone wants, will be sold for far more than he’s worth and flop abominably. In my own head it’s a toss up between Taiwo, Gregory van der Wiel and Ozil. Good players all and I think that they will all have successful careers, but they are going to be very tired, very happy with their professional life immediately after playing in the World Cup and the pressure of expectation will be huge. I liked how Arsenal player Sagna played during the World Cup. He’s the age and athleticism, plus he might be hungry enough for a trophy to learn how to defend well enough to take advantage of his attacking ability.
-- Speaking of Arsenal, it’s a little hypocritical of them to be so upset about Barca tapping up Cesc when it’s been 6 months of “We want Mario Balotelli”. I can’t see Mario wanting to go. Did you see his face when he held up the Champions League Trophy? I don't think that he will get that feeling at Arsenal.
-- Continuing the thought of losing players to transfer rumors, if/when Maicon goes, we are going to have to change the way we play in the back. We aren’t going to find another Maicon anytime soon, so there isn’t going to be a like for like replacement. Other fullbacks are either going to be more defensive or more attacking, but I think that it would be foolish if we think that we are going to get that perfect blend again.
-- One thought about the new Italy coach Cesar Prandelli: Thank the gods. I don’t know if Prandelli is going to win anything ever, but I was sick of Lippi’s special madness that allowed him to think that a so-so player who spends half a season on a trainer’s table is worth taking to the World Cup and using in almost every game and then not expect people to see favoritism when it obviously exists.
Anyway, this is good news for Inter supporters in that Mario and Santon will get a look – and not for rival club recruiting purposes only. Also, I think that Thiago Motta has said that he hopes he will get a look too, but I can’t remember if that was him or someone else. I have noticed that La Gazzetta’s reader comments have mentioned Mario quite a bit as a player the national team should have taken… even Moratti said that Mario couldn’t have been worse than what was there. All I have to say on the subject… I told you so. There were plenty of people who wrote long treatises about how Mario shouldn’t have gone, dressing room cancer, blah, blah, blah and shouted down all who disagreed. I bet that I see a different attitude now… that it’s too late.
Okay that’s all I got today, back to your regularly scheduled celebration of Argentina’s demise.