There are exactly three weeks until the 2017 summer transfer window slams shut, but Inter’s business is far from over. Between now and the beginning of September we are likely to see a lot more activity with both players coming in and players coming out, and on Thursday the club took a large step towards finalising two more departures.
Should everything go to plan over the next couple of days, Jeison Murillo, and Gary Medel will both wave goodbye to Inter before the weekend is out. Murillo will make an immediate return to Spain by joining La Liga side Valencia, while Medel will sign for Turkish outfit Besiktas.
Let’s start with Murillo, as that’s the one which will earn Inter more money (and is perhaps the more surprising news). According to transfer guru Gianluca Di Marzio, the Colombian is poised to return to La Liga after Inter and Valencia reached a deal that should be worth around €15m.
Valencia will sign him on a season-long loan but with an obligation to purchase him permanently at the end of the season, for a fee of around €13m plus (unspecified) add-ons.
Alfredo Pedulla, another transfer guru, reported almost a fortnight ago that Murillo had decided he wanted to leave Inter, having seen Milan Skriniar take his place in the starting XI with a series of excellent performances during the Nerazzurri’s pre-season. From that moment on it was simply a matter of time before the right formula for the transfer was found — and after several days of no-stop negotiations in Milan, everything is finally sorted. Valencia are counting on announcing him during the weekend following a medical, which in theory Murillo could have today or Saturday.
Inter signed Murillo from Granada in 2015 for a fee of around €8m, so this deal will provide us with a moderate profit on our investment from two seasons ago. Murillo racked up 69 appearances for us in all competitions, scoring three goals.
To be honest I was a little surprised when this story first started coming out a fortnight or so ago, as Murillo had shown signs of life during preseason and Spalletti appeared to be a fan. His excellent goal against Schalke in China was evidence of a player who had come back from his summer holidays with the right kind of attitude, determined to put a hideous 2016-17 campaign behind him.
Having said that, I don’t think selling him is a terrible mistake. Murillo had a brilliant first six months at Inter, in which he was being compared to football’s equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle and linked to the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona (makes you laugh looking back, I know...), but it’s all been downhill since then.
From approximately January 2016 onwards — from that disastrous week when he played a starring role in Sassuolo’s last-minute winning penalty at San Siro and scored an own goal against Atalanta — Murillo has been, if not a walking disaster, a mobile problem. His aggressive, brazen style of defending was thrilling to watch while it worked, but when it didn’t work his performances made for quite hideous viewing. He’s been terribly erratic and error-prone for the last 18 months, which is such a shame considering how well he’d started.
Perhaps Spalletti would have been capable of reviving his early 2015-16 form, or perhaps Murillo would have proven beyond all doubt that he is a lost cause at this club. We’ll never know. What we do know is that he wanted to go, and if he wanted to go it is probably right that he does go; we can no longer guarantee him the game-time he was once assured of.
We’ll always have his extraordinary bicycle-kick goal against Bologna in the Coppa Italia to remember him by.
If Murillo’s imminent departure comes as a surprise to some, Gary Medel’s surely doesn’t. Reports came out fairly quickly after Luciano Spalletti’s arrival about how the Chilean was not part of our new Head Coach’s plans for the coming season, so since then it’s simply been a matter of waiting to find out which club would be kind enough to take him off our hands.
For over a month, we were subjected to stories of clubs expressing an interest in the player but balking at the potential costs involved in signing him. Boca Juniors, Tigres and Trabzonspor are the three I definitely remember reading about, but there may have been even more.
But finally Besiktas have satisfied everyone, by offering Medel a three-year deal on high wages (around €2m per year I think) and Inter a fee in the region of €3m, according to Sky Sport and Sport Mediaset. (Other sources have suggested the fee could be slightly higher.) Those two sources say that Inter will also receive a percentage of the fee from any future resale made by Besiktas, although it’s not been specified what percentage.
A lot of Turkish news outlets have been talking optimistically about this deal being finalised during the last week, while Wanda Nara saying goodbye to Medel’s wife on Instagram with the phrase ‘maldito mercado’ was also a fairly important clue. But Medel has now personally confirmed his move, posting this on his Instagram on Thursday.
This picture of San Siro will please the majority of Interisti a lot more than the last picture of San Siro that Medel posted on social media. Back in April, he posted this on his Snapchat account.
I mean, is it that difficult to spell San Siro correctly? You don’t even have to care particularly about the club to be capable of that.
But anyway, that’s not really important in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that Medel will soon be an ex-Inter player, three seasons after we purchased him from Cardiff City for €5m*. 109 appearances and 1 goal later, Pitbull is packing his bags.
(*Inter will still make a small profit on Medel despite selling him for less than they originally bought him, due to amortisation on his overall value since 2014.)
It’s difficult to criticise this sale. While nobody (at least I think) can question his tenacity and commitment as a player, Medel had slowly become a liability during his three seasons at Inter and long outstayed his welcome.
Every manager that’s passed through this club since 2014 seems to have liked him, so he must have something going for him, but I think we can do a lot better than him both at centre-back, and in central midfield. He certainly doesn’t appear to be the ideal fit for a Spalletti team, in which more or less everyone needs to be comfortable on the ball. Medel has too often acted as a hand-brake whenever we are in possession.
If Interisti are to remember Medel fondly for anything, it will surely be for the goal that he scored in our victory against Roma back in October 2015. Rudi Garcia might not have been that impressed with the shot (‘we should have blocked that shot, it’s not as if Johan Neeskens had hit it...’), but hey, they all count. Thanks for something at least.
By Sunday, or at the latest Monday, both transfers should be finalised. Around €18m will be heading our way between the pair of them, albeit some of that will only arrive next season.
So what next? Well, I suspect a new signing at centre-back is what next. With Andrea Ranocchia almost certain to follow Murillo and Medel out of the exit door before the end of August (he would like to return to the Premier League, where Watford have shown an interest amongst others), we are currently heading into the new season with just two recognised central defenders on our books - Joao Miranda and Milan Skriniar.
That means Inter will have no choice but to pick up somebody else, because I don’t believe the club are crazy enough to think having two centre-backs in the first-team squad is a bright idea. In theory we could always promote 17 year-old Zinho Vanheusden on a permanent basis, as he has impressed a lot of people over the last six months with his performances for the Primavera and the first team during pre-season, but at most he would be a fourth choice.
We need someone else at the back with these two leaving and I’m certain someone else will arrive — although at the moment it’s not at all clear how much money we’d be willing or able to spend on him. Time will tell. Names? Ezequiel Garay, Presnel Kimpembe and Andreas Christensen have all been mentioned, but none of those players are more than an idea for now. At least not that we on the outside know of.
One thing’s for sure though: whoever our third and fourth-choice centre-backs are this season, they won’t be Jeison Murillo or Gary Medel. Both are now, for all intents and purposes, ex-Inter players. So long, folks.