Rodrigo Palacio has always been a workhorse. It didn’t matter who his manager was, or what position he was asked to play across the front-line he could be expected to make smart runs, work hard defensively, and score some goals. While he still puts in a lot of running when he plays Palacio’s runs have become less and less frequent and expertly timed, while goals have become borderline nonexistent. With a contract that is due to expire at the end of the season it’s time for La Trenza to leave Inter and possibly make his much-wanted return back to Argentina and Boca Juniors.
Palacio first arrived at Inter Milan in the summer of 2012 to the amusement of many Inter fans. The Milanese club had been linked to the attacker for a couple of seasons and by the time he joined for €10.5m he was already 30. Fans weren’t necessarily convinced that Palacio would be successful at Inter but were willing to give him a chance considering the last time the club bought an 30 year old Argentinian striker from Genoa, he brought Inter the Treble. Like his predecessor Diego Milito, Palacio hit the ground running at Inter racking up 22 goals and 7 assists in his debut season wearing black and blue. The following season he managed 19 goals and another 7 assists but then his form dropped like a rock. Despite Palacio having 35 Serie A appearances in the 14/15 season he only scored 8 times. His Europa League form was much better with 4 goals in 6 appearances but warning light should have been going off at Inter.
Since La Trenza’s arrival at Inter goals weren’t the only thing he brought to the table. He could always be seen making diagonal runs to stretch the defense and his unpredictability caused chaos that he or other players could take advantage of going forward. He was also usually more than willing to track back and make tackles when the team was being pegged back, making him a coach’s dream support striker. That 14/15 season saw Palacio start to make those runs a little less and while he still would go back and help out defensively, he wasn’t getting back forward quick enough to take advantage of counterattacks. In other words his age was catching up with him, and it would only get worse.
Palacio was a shadow of his former self in the 15/16 season, only scoring twice in 27 Serie A appearances. He would make runs but his touch would desert him, and his shots were just abysmal. Despite this terrible showing, Inter gave him a one-year contract extension back in January tying him to the club until the end of this current season. His two substitute appearances so far this campaign have not been promising, and at this point there is no reason for the club to even consider keeping him around any longer. Jovetic’s appearance in the match yesterday means he is now officially owned by Inter, and by the end of the season Frank De Boer will have Mauro Icardi, Stevan Jovetic, Eder, Gabriel Barbosa, and Gianluca Caprari available to him. Palacio and his €2.4m contract is no longer necessary. La Trenza has been a faithful servant to the club for years, but it is now time for him to depart.