Its Calcio Mercato time, and we take a look at all the players being linked with the Nerazzurri.
The last two seasons had been a disaster for Inter, signalling the end of a glorious cycle which culminated in the histroic treble in 2010. Moratti last summer talked about start of a new cycle, a more pragmatic reboot in tune with UEFA's Financial Fair Play. Moratti talking about this season being the new "Year Zero", a futuristic project which will bring more success to the club in the future.
True to his word, over the last 12 months Inter have managed to reduce their wage bill by abput 50% to under Eur 100m pa. Inter have also invested in youth, and results at youth level are encouraging with the NextGen win in Europe last season as well as Inter winning 3 out of the 4 "youth Scudetti" in Itaky. The promotion of young Stramaccioni, 36, to head coach also looked a step in the same direction, Inter's coach is younger than their captain Zanetti (39). Inter's senior squad also has a much younger feel to it than 2 years ago, with players like Juan (21), Ranocchia (24), Coutinho (20), Alvarez (24), Obi (21), Gargano (26), Nagatomo (25), etc starting to play major roles.
However, most critics were not convinced and wrote off this new revolution before it even began. In most opinion polls before this season, Inter were placed out of the top spots, few believed that this new Inter could compete for top spots on the Serie A table.
All that has changed now. Inter have surprised even some of their optimistic fans with some of their performances this season, specially the away win which ended the 49 game unbeaten streak of rivals Juventus. However, what is also become clear is that this is a squad in transition, and there are many gaps which need reinforcement. A lack of depth and creativity in midfield has cost Inter points against teams which are bottom of the table.
But from the looks of it, Inter are going to attempt sorting some of these issues out in this winter transfer window. Lets look at some of the transfer activity linked with Inter these days.
OUT: Sneijder, Alvarez, Jonathan, Silvestre, and Livaja (Loan)
Compliance to UEFA's FFP regulations will yet again dictate how Inter approach the transfer market. New buys will have to be funded by sales, and the wage bill will need to be brought down even further. And that is the main cause of the very public spat between Inter and their treble hero, Wes Sneijder.
The Talented Mr. Wesley
Sneijder earns 6m net a season, which in Italy translates to almost 12m of gross wage for Inter. This represents a big chunk of Inter's total wage bill, and has been at the centre of a rather public dispute between the parties in the last month or so. This started over the summer, when Inter and Sneijder decided to turn down a good offer (allegedly by Manchester United) for the player's services. This was probably done with an understanding that the club and player will come to agreement on a new contract which works for both parties. However, two months ago, it became evident that this marriage has become ugly. Inter's new contract offer to Sneijder of 4m net wages over 3 years fell short of what the player had in mind, as it basically means that Sneijder earns in 3 years what he would in 2 under his current contract.
The fact that there is a serious issue was leaked to the media by Sneijder's wife via twitter, which led to the media briefing by Branca where all hell broke lose.
"Sneijder will not play until he makes a decision about his contract." - Marco Branca
The media furore that followed forced Inter to backtrack, fearing legal & PR issues, with Stramaccioni claiming that Sneijder is left out on due to "technical reasons". Bless him, he smiles after he makes this statement every single time, leaving no one fooled as to what is the real reason Sneijder is frozen out of the squad.
My take on this contractual stand off is that both parties have run out of ideas after calling each others bluff. This "sign or don't play" policy is the only bargaining chip Inter have at their disposal. Either that, or they keep paying Sneijder his salary and then let him go on a Bosman, or mutually agree to terminate his contract for free this winter - the two outcomes Sneijder seems to be pushing for. Both these outcomes result in significant loss of value for Inter, specially given the financial situation, and both these outcomes can be financially quite rewarding for Sneijder. So Inter have little choice here, and this "sign or don't play" policy is needed to ensure that Sneijder looks favourably if a compromise solution presents itself over the winter transfer window - like the rumoured Man Utd offer of last summer.
However, this stalemate does not help either, with Inter losing 12m per year on wages and Sneijder risking his position in World Cup 2014. So an offer which preserves Sneijder's wages and profile, while giving Inter at least half of the player's perceived value (my guess is in the region of Eur 10-12m) would probably be a good compromise for both parties. Possible destinations include Anzhi, Spurs, Manchester United & Galatasaray. If this does not materialise, expect both parties to quickly agree halfway on the contract stand-off. The stakes are way too high for Inter and Sneijder for this situation to continue after the winter break.
The Curious Case of Ricky Alvarez
With Alvarez, it looks like Inter are losing patience, specially with his injuries and form. Stramaccioni also does not seem to have much confidence in the younster's ability, which is clearly not helping. Inter are looking to raise some money for their purchases and looks like there is a lot of interest for the young Argentine, specially from Porto, Arsenal, Schalke, Galatasaray and a few other clubs. A swap deal with Porto with either Fernando or Rolando moving the other way is a distinct possibility.
The Defensive Flops
Silvestre & Jonathan, Inter have clearly given up on them. Silvestre has never really settled at Inter, and Stramaccioni no longer considers him as an alternative. With Chivu recovering from his injury, the chances of Silvestre playing are only going to diminish further. Its time for the player to look at options. Genoa & Napoli look keen on Silvestre, though the player is yet to be convinced.
Jonathan also has failed to live up to his potential, and he seems Palermo bound, Inter are pushing for a cash deal, while Palermo want a loan with an option to buy.
The Young Guns
Livaja seems destined to go out on loan, specially if another striker arrives - there are a lot of Serie B clubs interested in the youngster who has scored 4 goals in Europa League this season. Benassi may also be farmed out for experience, if another midfielder arrives as is expected. Duncan and M'Baye look set to be retained in the squad as back ups. Bessa has returned from his injury, and may get some playing time in Cup games, specially if Sneijder and Alvarez leave.
IN: "Vice-Milito", Midfield Playmaker, Central Defender.
The Never-Ending Saga of "Vice-Milito"
Inter do not have a back up for the aging Milito, and this has been the focus of Inter's transfer strategy for over 6 months now. Specially since Palacio has become a first team starter alongside Milito, that has left only young Livaja as a back up for both players. So far, the odds-on favourite seems to be Rocchi, who is in the last 6 months of his Lazio contract. Inter are willing to offer him 800k for 6 months, with an option of an extension for 1 year. However, Lazio want a small fee for him which is creating a hurdle, specially since the relationship between the two clubs has been sour since the Pandev episode. Inter are relying on Rocchi's agents to seal the deal with Lolito. Other names being linked with Inter for this role include Borriello and Floccari.
The "Show Stopper" of this Winter
This seems to be the area where Inter want to invest heavily this winter, to give Stramaccioni more options in the creative midfield. Lack of a playmaker has been quite evident in Inter's failings so far this season, specially against the bottom of the table sides.... Continued at Exciting Winter Transfer Market For Internazionale