"A goal-scorer at every level he has played at, he has been banging them in for Inter's youth sides and is now in Spain as the Nerazzurri look to give him high-level experience. A star of their successful NextGen series campaign in 2011-12, claiming five goals in seven matches."
Three years ago, you could be forgiven for thinking the future looked bright for Samuele Longo. The above paragraph is how the then 20 year-old was described in the vaguely prestigious Don Balon list of 2012, featuring "the 101 youngsters we believe to be the most talented on planet earth." It was a list he shared with the likes of Paul Pogba, Neymar, Isco and Mario Gotze, all born in 1991 or after and destined to set the world of football alight, in one way or another*.
Fast forward to 2015 and he would be somewhat fortunate to make a list of the top 301 players of his age group. Having once possessed the potential to become a Somebody (albeit nowhere near as much of a Somebody as the names I have cherry-picked from the list there), he has instead mutated into a relative Nobody - a transformation which was recrystallised in the wake of today's transfer news. After spending last year on loan at Cagliari, Longo has officially joined one of the Serie A sides who are replacing the relegated Sardinians in Frosinone. The newcomers have been on the look-out for a forward to complete their squad ahead of the coming season, and they have now decided that Mr Longo fits their bill. He has signed on a season-long loan with an option for Frosinone to purchase him outright, at a currently undisclosed price, with Inter holding the right to subsequently buy him back in the case of said option being exercised.
This is not an operation that particularly helps Inter financially, given that - for the moment at least - it's only a loan deal, but it does at least help us alleviate our numerical problem, with another player agreeing to clear off for the year. And the sad truth is that this is probably the biggest contribution Longo will ever offer to Inter as a club, because he simply isn't good enough to play for them.
Writing off somebody's career at the age of 23 would be a mug's game, but it's pretty darn difficult to see Longo reviving the hype he was briefly surrounded by while starring in Andrea Stramaccioni's Primavera side. Since those heady days, an almost total lack of development in all areas of his game has left him with as many different clubs on his CV as he has senior goals scored (six).
A reasonably credible cameo appearance against us back in February aside, he showed hardly any signs of genuine progression at Cagliari, confidence down and maturity lacking, and his performances in pre-season (despite scoring our last goal of any kind, against Carpi) again spelt out why he will never make the grade at a club of Inter's magnitude. His birth certificate might tell us he is older than Mauro Icardi, but the fact is he still plays football like he is five years-old. Sorry, Samuele. You do at least seem like a nice person.
The beautiful thing about this game we all love is that things can happen which make no sense, and so perhaps this move will do the guy some good. Perhaps Roberto Stellone will manage to develop Longo's game like nobody else has been able to so far, as well as give him his confidence back and play him with continuity. Let's hope that happens, because once upon a time Inter fans had pretty high hopes indeed for this player. I'm struggling to envisage it though.
*There were of course many others on that list whose careers have gone exactly the same way as poor Samuele's, but you get what I'm saying. Suggesting that he was touted to be as good as some of those guys was entirely disingenuous. At least I don't remember many comparisons to Neymar.