When Roberto Mancini suggested after Inter's final game of the season that he would like 'eight or nine' new players to come through the doors of Appiano Gentile this summer, it was treated by most as just a spontaneous remark to a journalist's question, at the end of a long, tiring campaign. Taking into account what has happened since then however, it appears he may not have been joking after all. With the existing squad still yet to return for pre-season training (which will begin early next week, in Brunico), no fewer than five players have already been added to it as the chase of runaway champions Juventus hots up.
In particular, it's the back-line which has been - quite rightly - receiving most of the attention so far, confirming Mancini's repugnance at what he saw going on in front of Samir Handanovic last season. The services of messrs Miranda and Murillo have already been secured, and as of today Inter now have a third new defender on their books - who also, as it happens, has a name beginning with M. Which is interesting, for some people, probably (me).
The Spaniard has arrived in Milan from Barcelona on a two-year loan deal, which could thereafter become a permanent deal should he make a certain number of appearances - at which point, the right to purchase would become an obligation to purchase. (As far as I'm aware, the number of appearances required for this to happen has not been disclosed). The first and second year of the loan will both cost around €1m, with the right to purchase set at €6m, therefore making the potential full operation worth €8m.
If Montoya's words to the Catalan publication Mundo Deportivo at Barcelona airport are to be believed, he would rather this didn't happen, as he still holds out hope of returning to Spain at the end of the loan, but it sounds as if this decision is not exactly in his hands. There have been quite a few Interisti who have been annoyed by such an admission of indifference towards Inter, but personally I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. He's lived in Barcelona his entire life, and has been with the club itself since the age of eight - and he was speaking to an extremely pro-Barca paper, all of which leads me to think that it would be hasty to make too much out of this. On top of that, he did also hint that he had considered leaving in January, so I say we judge him solely on his performances.
With regard to those very performances, it's difficult to quite know what to expect. Montoya has left Barcelona because both Dani Alves and Aleix Vidal were ahead of him in the pecking order for right-back, but that doesn't mean he is necessarily substandard himself - by which I mean that it's possible to be worse than those two, but still better than Danilo D'Ambrosio. Extremely possible, in fact. On the other hand, after being touted as another exciting La Masia product two or three years ago, Montoya only made 12 appearances in the Blaugrana's treble-winning campaign last year, and has never made an appearance for the Spanish national side at senior level. If the is potential there, it has thus far remained unfulfilled.
All in all, anyone who says they definitely know how this signing is going to work out is lying. It could work out well, or he could turn out to be a waste of space, but either way he does seem like an upgrade on what Inter already have in the full-back position - and maybe, just maybe, we might be able to get him to love us as much as he loves Barcelona. Bienvenido, hermano.