After Caner Erkin, Ever Banega and Gianluca Caprari, Inter have secured their fourth signing of the 2016 summer transfer market. Or should we say their third, because we all knew about this for weeks and he's been training with us since before Caprari was announced. Anyway, these are small details.
In case you've been living under a rock for the last four weeks, the man in question is Cristian Ansaldi, a 29 year-old Argentine full-back formerly of Newell's Old Boys, Rubin Kazan, Zenit St Petersburg, Atletico Madrid and most recently Genoa, the team he spent the 2015-16 season playing for. He has signed a three-year contract with the Nerazzurri with an option for a fourth year, which if triggered would tie him to the club until 2020.
The agreement that Inter and Genoa have reached for Ansaldi contains two parts; a transfer fee of either $2m, €3m or €4.7m (or perhaps a completely different number - every source I've read appears to have a different figure), and then a 'technical offset' in Diego Laxalt, who Piero Ausilio used back in June to lower the Grifone's initial asking price (thought to be around €7-8m). Laxalt has spent the last 18 months on loan at Genoa, at the end of which period there was meant to be an option to purchase him for €2.3m, but Inter have relinquished that small fee in order to get their hands on the man they believe could resolve our never-ending woes in the full-back spot. A swap deal with extra money going to Genoa, in other words.
Ansaldi has collected seven major honors so far in his career, including two Russian Premier League titles with Rubin Kazan in 2008 and 2009, as well as 22 appearances in the UEFA Europa League (the tournament he will be taking part in with his new club next season) and 19 appearances in the UEFA Champions League (the tournament we sincerely hope he will be taking part in the season after that), including preliminary rounds. He has netted just six goals in 243 career games, but 27 assists from a full-back is nothing to be sniffed at.
Personally, this is a signing that I'm very happy with. As I wrote about in my Alternative Serie A Team of the Season here, Ansaldi has enjoyed an excellent season under our old friend Gian Piero Gasperini at Genoa, playing in as many as five different roles, and could be the man we've been searching for ever since Roberto Mancini replaced Walter Mazzarri and switched our defense from a back three to a back four.
The full-back area is one that the club has failed to adequately address over the last two years, but they may finally have done so now, as despite not being a world beater Ansaldi is much better than what we currently have. I'm convinced of that. There are three things I like in particular about him as a player - his infinite versatility, his crossing and his commitment, qualities which would all be more than welcome for us. On top of that he's an Argentine, and Inter always need a healthy contingent of Argentinians in their squad (he and Banega will increase our quota to four, alongside Icardi and Palacio). We just do, it's an unwritten but universally accepted rule.
The two potential drawbacks are his age (he turns 30 in September, so he's not a long-term solution) and his tendency to pick up injuries (he had three at Genoa last season, which forced him to miss a total of eight matches), but I really think the positives outweigh the negatives with this player. Let's hope that proves to be the case. There's also the fact his Instagram account is magnificent, which he uses incessantly to post about how grateful he is for the opportunity life gives him. Which never hurts when you're getting to know new fans.
Everyone has pretty much welcomed him to Inter already, given that he's already debuted for us and is currently taking part in our American Tour, but it's worth doing it again now it's been officially confirmed: Benvenuto Cristian!