With the 2015-16 Serie A season now just six games away from its conclusion, several clubs (and indeed several of Italy's newspapers) have started making plans for how they will act in the upcoming summer transfer window, which for many fans and media outlets appears to be significantly more interesting than actual football. As a result the Italian media is already awash with farfetched mercato stories, with Inter in particular receiving a lot of attention due to the difficult financial situation they supposedly find themselves in.
Should Roberto Mancini's men fail to secure qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League, which at this point seems highly likely, the club will be set for another summer in which transfer business will need to be self-financed - in other words, we will again have to sell before we can buy. (It's all about Financial Fair Play, but you know all about that by now.)
One of the men who could therefore be sacrificed, according to the infamously anti-Inter publication Tuttosport, is Marcelo Brozovic, who has been attracting interest from several clubs around Europe after his impressive performances at San Siro this season. The paper has reported on Wednesday that the Croatian midfielder could fetch Inter a fee in the region of €20-25m, with Arsenal the most interested suitor, which could be used to help the club comply with the personalised guidelines UEFA have set them between now and 2017 (when they are obliged to break even). Brozovic was signed by Inter for a total fee of €10m (a two-year loan deal with an obligatory buyout fee of €8m, plus €2m in bonuses), so a deal in this region would constitute a healthy profit on our investment of January 2015.
The other names this particular article mentions as potential economic sacrifices are Mauro Icardi and Samir Handanovic - two of our best players this season - although it states that Erick Thohir may have more trouble recouping money from these sales; Icardi because Inter are unwilling to accept any offer below €50m, and Handanovic because they are unwilling to accept any offer below €12m, which few clubs are likely to propose for a goalkeeper of his age. For this reason Tuttosport believes Brozovic is the man in pole position to reluctantly leave Italy.
Were this to prove the case, Piero Ausilio has already earmarked Sampdoria's Roberto Soriano as a replacement, who he managed to secure an option on during the January transfer window (meaning we would have to be consulted before anyone else could try and sign him), for a potential fee of €12-15m. Soriano is 25 years old and has scored 8 goals in 31 league appearances for Sampdoria this season, as well as collecting 8 caps for the Italian national team since his debut in November 2014.
The idea of replacing Brozovic with Soriano has not gone down universally well amongst Inter supporters this week, with some adamant that the two players are of a completely different level - people such as Daniele Mari, who has amusingly suggested it would be like comparing Italian politician Rosa Bindi to Indian actress and star of Quantico Priyanka Chopra (Google them) - but these fans can for the moment take heart from the fact that it is Tuttosport reporting the story. It could well be that this is yet more nonsense they've thought up to underline how idiotic and pathetic a club we are, as has happened many times in the past, in which case there would be nothing to worry about (although personally I am a fan of Soriano, so I wouldn't necessarily dislike him joining).
In honesty though, I'd rather wait until the season is over to have discussions of this nature. It's just too early. Despite their best efforts to suggest otherwise, nobody truly knows how much money we are going to have to bring in from player sales this summer, and nobody truly knows yet how Mancini would like to redesign his team ahead of next season, so anything we say for now is little more than vacuous conjecture.
Only one thing is for sure as things stand: if Inter miss out on the top three, at least one player we all like is going to have to leave. And that would most certainly not be Epic.