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Replacing Handanovic: Weighing the most likely options

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With contract talks with Handanovic dragging on and potential suitors lurking, we take a look at the two most likely replacements for him, Mattia Perin (left) and Francesco Bardi (right).

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Samir Handanovic, Inter's No. 1, has been an integral part of this team since his arrival. He quickly made fans forget about Julio Cesar and has been arguably one of the best goalkeepers in Europe in his time at the club. His contract ends in 2016 though and contract negotiations have been taking a bit of time. While recent news has been stating that the contract renewal should go through soon, there still is potential for his departure. Clubs such as Roma, Liverpool, and Manchester United have all been monitoring the Slovenian goalkeeper, and if Inter fail to make the Champions League next season and need to raise money, these clubs would be more than willing to swoop in for him.

With this uncertainty in mind Inter have been considering who might take up the gloves for the Nerazzurri if Handanovic does leave. There seem to be two options in mind, first Genoa's Mattia Perin, and the other being a home-grown option in Francesco Bardi.

First we will look at Handanovic's stats, just as a baseline for what a newcomer would have to live up to.

(Player values from transfermarkt.com, stats from squawka.com)

Samir Handanovic (Inter)

Age: 30 Height: 6'3" (1.93m) Estimated Market Value: €18.5 Million

In the 23 Serie A matches Handanovic has played, he has conceded 30 goals, averaging 1.3 goals a game. He has made 46 saves in those matches, averaging 2 saves a match and 1.53 saves per goal. He has a 71% distribution accuracy and is fairly strong in the air, with 63 catches and 16 punches. Even with his sub-par defense, he has managed to keep 8 clean sheets in Serie A. Handanovic's specialty is supposed to be saving penalties, and so far this season he has lived up to that reputation. He has faced 4 penalties and saved 3 of them.

Mattia Perin (Genoa)

Age: 22 Height: 6'2" (1.88m) Estimated Market Value: €15 Million

The young Italian goalkeeper has also played in 23 Serie A matches and conceded 26 goals at an average of 1.13 goals given up per match. He has had a whopping 70 saves at 3.04 saves a match and 2.69 saves per goal. That many saves shows that even when playing with a bad defense, he has the reflexes to keep his side in matches they don't necessarily deserve to be in. Whoscored.com has given Perin their Man of the Match award more than any other player on his team this season. His distribution accuracy is at 53% and has 82 catches and 16 punches. While he is not as tall as Handanovic he has shown himself to be impressive coming to collect crosses. Perin's specialty is his close-range reflex saves, not penalties. In facing 4 penalties this season he has saved one.

Francesco Bardi (Chievo Verona, on loan from Inter)

Age: 23 Height: 6'1" (1.87m) Estimated Market Value: €8 Million

(I have to offer a little disclaimer here. I will mostly be using statistics from Bardi's time on loan last season at Livorno, not this season at Chievo. This is because he has only played 9 matches this season. While some would think from this information is that he hasn't been playing because he simply isn't good enough, there is a potential different reason.  Rolando Maran replaced Eugenio Corini as manager at Chievo on October 19. Bardi played two matches under Maran and then never saw the pitch again. Whether he doesn't play because he is not good or Maran likes their other goalkeeper better is up for you to decide. Since he played 35 games last season I will use averages as much as possible to keep the comparisons similar)

Last season at Livorno, the slightly older Italian goalkeeper conceded an average of 1.97 goals per match (by 23 matches he had conceded 41 goals). He had 2.91 saves per match and 1.52 saves per goal. His distribution accuracy was 52% and averaged 2.97 catches and 0.63 punches a match (which is about 68 catches and 15 punches after 23 games). Interestingly enough, in his time at Livorno it looks like he did not face any penalties in Serie A.

In Bardi's defense last season he was playing for a team with an atrocious defense which left them in last place at the end of the season so his 2.91 saves per match is not all that bad.

In his 9 games for Chievo he conceded 1.67 goals a match, had 3 saves per game and 1.93 saves per goal (which could point to the problem being just as much his back-line as him). He also faced 3 penalties and saved 2 of them.

Summary:

So looking at the stats Mattia Perin look like a very good goalkeeper that is young enough to become potentially world class. His reflexes are great and with a better defense in front of him would hopefully making as many saves without conceding as many goals (though it is questionable if Inter can currently offer him a significantly better defense).

Francesco Bardi looks currently be an average, if not fairly solid goalkeeper. He is also young enough to make a lot of improvements but his performances so far have not exactly left fans eager to see him become Inter's starting goalkeeper. He has been stuck with very bad defenses to work with so his statistics are possibly skewed. At Inter he could probably be pretty good, but it is currently hard to argue that he would end up performing at the level of some of Inter's past great goalkeepers (though he could prove me wrong-and I hope he does).

The other issue to consider is money. If Inter were to sell Handanovic it would probably be to raise funds to help with FFP. His market value is €18.5 Million but Inter could probably get anywhere from €22-30 Million if there were multiple clubs bidding for him. While Inter does have a pretty good relationship with Genoa and could probably offer players in exchange for Perin, the club would still probably still end up paying anywhere from €7-13 Million (and possibly more in payments split over a period of time). That would be a nice chunk of Handanovic's sale going to his replacement, instead of helping balance the club's books and funding other reinforcements. If Bardi is brought in as the replacement, the club would get to keep all of the money from the sale.

There is also another possibility to consider, that Inter sell both Handanovic and Bardi  while bringing in Perin. Bardi has previously stated that he would only return to Inter as a starter, and if Inter bring in Perin (who is younger than Bardi) then that wish would probably never come to fruition. There would really be no need for Inter to keep shipping him out on loan either (since that was supposed to be to give him experience before returning to Inter) so the club could sell him and use that money to help finance Perin's arrival as well.

The current best option for Inter would be to keep Handanovic but if he does go, at least it is good to know that the club has options.