It appears that Friday's embarrassing defeat to Tottenham in Oslo has set the alarm bells ringing in Casa Inter. Within hours of the game ending in such abysmal fashion a new name was linked to our midfield - perhaps (or perhaps not) as a knee-jerk reaction to what the club hierarchy had seen on the pitch - and over the weekend the rumours have grown in strength, suggesting this man is now a concrete target for us as the new season draws ever closer.
The player in question is Luiz Gustavo, a 29 year-old midfielder who is currently plying his trade with Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, the league he has been in ever since arriving in Europe nine years ago. He spent two years at Bayern Munich before moving to Lower Saxony, contributing to the side that won the treble in 2013, and has also amassed 41 caps with the Brazilian national team after debuting in 2011. His contract with the Wolves runs until 2018 but neither party seems particularly interested in renewing it, with the club reportedly eager to sell him this summer so they can pursue other targets.
According to Gianluca Di Marzio, a Derby d'Italia of sorts is in course to sign the Brazilian, with Inter and Juventus both interested in adding him to their midfield options. The Bianconeri were first to make a move for him a couple of weeks ago after identifying him as an ideal replacement for the outgoing Paul Pogba, but their proposal of a loan deal with option to buy did not satisfy Wolfsburg, who are a very rich club and therefore have no desire to let their players go cheaply (as we discovered to our own cost last summer, with the never-ending Ivan Perisic saga). They are only interested in parting with Gustavo on a permanent basis, so the fact that Juve have reached an agreement with the player counts for relatively little at the moment. Simone Zaza could facilitate negotiations between the clubs in the future, as Wolfsburg are very interested in signing him and made an official offer a few weeks back (receiving a 'no' from the player though, who'd prefer to stay in Italy), but for now talks have stalled.
Inter therefore have a good chance of beating Juve to Gustavo's signature, with Di Marzio reporting that unlike our dear compatriots we are willing to sign him on a permanent deal. According to him intermediaries representing us have been in contact with Wolfsburg over the last 48 hours, and are ready to present an offer of €18m plus £2m in bonuses on Monday, when negotiations should officially start. Gustavo has a release clause of €32m in his contract, but the German club's desire to move him on means that they could well accept a lower fee - whether or not they'll be happy with such a large reduction in the price remains to be seen. Alfredo Pedulla meanwhile adds that Piero Ausilio met with the player himself a month ago, before he knew exactly in what direction our summer transfer campaign to go, to see if he would be interested in a potential move to San Siro (he doesn't specify how that meeting went.)
Roberto Mancini is said to be a fan of the midfielder (he would certainly be the kind of experienced, established player that our coach is said to be after this summer), so this is a story to keep an eye on over the next few days, which could be decisive. His arrival would not exclude deals for the two other Brazilians we have been linked to lately - Oscar and Gabriel Barbosa (Gabigol) - because Gustavo has a German passport as of 29th June, and therefore would not fill up our sole remaining non-EU spot. How this would affect the midfielders we currently have is unclear for the moment - Marcelo Brozovic is not guaranteed to stay this season, and nor is Felipe Melo (might he be seen as a replacement for one of those men?) - but ostensibly he would be a good reinforcement in defensive midfield. Let's wait and see if Wolfsburg are willing to give him to us for a decent fee, or if instead this will turn into another infuriating summer-long saga like Perisic-Gate did. I sincerely hope not.