Talking about Inter Milan means talking about Javier Zanetti and vice versa. As a captain for 13 years, he has led Nerazurri with fine performance and consitency, leading them to 15 trophies during his reign as captain. But, there is an end for everything and Zanetti is no exception. Currently he is at the dawn of his career and already shows the signs of declining. So, when Il Tractore retires, who will inherit the armband that has been strapped tightly to his arm ? For now, the vice captain is Cambiasso and below him is Milito and Samuel. Also there is still Stankovic and Chivu. But all of them also already at the age of 30’s. Apparently, following Zanetti’s footstep to play in high level competition until 39 years old is virtually imposibble for them. Even Milito already shows alarming inconsistency while Stankovic and Chivu are struggling with their fitness.
So, who will continue the legacy of Zanetti and leading new generation of Inter Milan in next few years ? This is quite difficult question as there is no standout leader among the players within current Inter squad. The current Inter mostly comprises of new legs like Handanovic, Juan, Guarin, Gargano, Pereria, and Palacio. So, by common sense, unlikely they would be the next captain as there are more senior players out there. Also, the likes of Livaja, Coutinho, and Ricky also would be unlikely as they are tender in age. So by eliminating the least probable one, here are the candidates of next captain:
1. Wesley Sneijder (age 28, joined Inter in 2009)
In near future, he will be the only remnant of treble winner team. And, within Inter first team squad, he is the most senior player and has the longest service for under 30 years old player criteria. Seems the chance of him as captain is quite high, but it only and only happens if both the Dutchman and Nerazzuri do not part way. There is no telling when Inter will sell him for big amount of money or either Sneijder will leave Milano to follow other stars that had left Serie-A.
2. Samir Handanovic (age 28, joined Inter in 2012)
Talking about captaincy for him is extremely premature. But, barring the 30 years old players in the squad, he is the most senior player there on par with Sneijder. Also, as the goalkeeper, his position is relatively secure and there is little chance of him being offloaded in near future. In next 2 or 3 years, probably the only active player in current squad that is older than him is Palacio. But, there is no telling when his performance drops, let alone as a striker in modern football that requires a lot of movement. Also, combination of rat-tail and armband isn’t neat fashion, is it ?
3. Andrea Ranocchia (age 24, joined Inter in 2011)
As the name stands, Internazionare Milano was established to accomodate foreigners to play football in Milano. The policy still continues as the number of foreign players of Nerazurri is almost always the most among other Serie-A teams. Neverthless, Interisti would be proud to have Italian captain to show the identity of Italan club. And, if he is the great defender that Italians desperate for so long and becomes the backbone of Gli Azzuri, it would be perfect scenario for Interisti. Could it be Ranocchia ? Forget the great defender part, he still has long way to go to be the one. But, currently he is the primary centerback of the team and his playing time is among the highest in squad. Add the factor of him as Italian, his odd as the captain is widely open. The recent match against Rubin Kazan, when he became a captain, just confirmed it even more. If somehow he becomes leader of La Beneamata, the captaincy will once again return to centerback position, just like Giuseppe Bergomi who was the predecessor of Javier Zanetti. Of course comparing Ranocchia to Bergomi is an utter insult to such accomplished defender. Well, at least the harsh challenges reminds him a lot. Surely The Frog can leap even higher, right Ranocchia ?
4. Yuto Nagatomo (age 26, joined Inter in 2011)
Probably mention him as Inter’s next captain is a bit peculiar, but no one bears any resemblance to Zanetti better than Nagatomo. Simply say, Nagatomo is a poor man’s Zanetti. Both player have almost similar charateristics. Versatile, infinite stamina, industrious, with dribbling as strong point. By the next couple of years, his age will allow him to be senior enough to be a captain and still has enough time to serve Inter long enough. Then, the main point with him as a captain is, he would inject the enthusiasm and lead by example just like Zanetti has been doing. His chance for the captaincy is sandwiched by Handanovic and Ranocchia, but if somehow he becomes one, he would be the first Asian to lead the top European team.