It may be too early to talk about transfers. But since Inter don't have much to play for, perhaps we should start making plans for the next year. Lets first quickly summarise the situation Inter find themselves in:
- The treble is distant memory, and a revolution is needed to rebuild Inter.
- The focus of the club now is clearly is on youth development.
- Due to FFP kicking in, the club cannot spend too much money. Most of the transfers fuInternds will have to be “earned” by selling stars.
- Inter’s existing resources, a dangerous mix of very old and very young, are best suited for a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 or at a stretch, 4-3-1-2.
The treble is a distant, fading memory...
In this scenario, the best strategy for Inter is to start a 2-3 year project to build a new team with young players. Here is what I think Inter should do:
Decide on the right coach.
Patience is a virtue. Unfortunately it is also something Inter’s President Moratti lacks. It is becoming clear that Moratti will not show too much patience with young Stramaccioni at the helm, specially if results do not go our way. And when you start a new revolution, initially the results will not go your way. While I like the idea’s of Stramaccioni, and believe he has a great future (hopefully with Inter), if Moratti is not willing to give him at least 2-3 years to rebuild the side, its best to hire a coach on whom the president has confidence. Someone who can take tough decisions without the fear of getting sacked. My preference is Prandelli. He has rebuilt sides before, he is great with youth, and his calm persona is perhaps what “pazza” Inter need to reduce the chaos that engulfs the club. Prandelli’s preferred 4-2-3-1 is also a decent fit with Inter’s existing resources.
If we cannot get Prandelli, we should go for one of Spalletti or Guidolin. These coaches could also suit the resources available at Inter, and possibly build something exciting for the future. What Inter should avoid are coaches who have dramatically different idea’s to what Inter are currently used to, who will try to change too much too soon with too little investment. Inter have been there before (Check out my article predicting the Gasperini disaster), and I hope we have learnt from that experience. So while I really respect Bielsa as a coach, he is NOT for Inter.
Players Inter need to sell to raise funds.
Pazzini needs to go, he is just not good enough for Inter. And he may fetch us a few million. Regarding Sneijder, we may have to sell him to raise funds for transfers, but I would do that only if we get over €20m for him. If we can sell Maicon for anywhere around €10m, I would love to see that - maybe he needs a fresh challenge, but his performances for Inter last two seasons have been appalling. If we can get a €5m+ offer for Forlan, we should sell him too. But if no offer comes, lets keep him as back up. Stankovic we should keep for a bench role, his market value will be next to nothing and he can add some maturity to the bench. I guess it’s also time for Cordoba and Orlandoni to retire. I would definitely keep Chivu - I hope we don't let him walk away for free, players of his quality will cost us at least €5-10m to replace. And his performances have been quite encouraging at CB of late.
Players Inter have taken on loan.
Zarate is not worth half of what Lazio are asking, and neither should we take up Palombo's option – he is just not good enough for Inter. I am not sure about Guarin, he does not look worth the money we are expected to pay - I would give him back if we have that option. But he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to prove himself yet, so I wouldn’t mind if Inter end up keeping him. We should definitely keep Poli, he has a great future with us.
Players Inter have loaned out.
Muntari's contract ends, thank God. Pandev & Mariga we should get rid of. Benedetti & Caldirola are impressing in their loan spells in Serie B, and I would like to get at least one of them back to start learning the ropes from Samuel & Lucio. These kids could be the future of our defence. We should definitely get back Coutinho, he has developed his end product in Spain. And as for Viviano, unless we sell Cesar for big money, we should keep him where he is, a back up for the future.
To summarize so far...
IN: Coutinho, Caldirola, Poli.
OUT: Pandev, Sneijder, Maicon, Cordoba, Mariga, Pazzini, Palombo, Guarin, Zarate.
Of course, in reality we may not be able to push Sneijder, Maicon, Pazzini, Pandev, etc for what they are worth. But lets just assume for now (in my fantasy world) that we are able to do that. That should give us about ~ €45m of funds from sales. Plus the saved ~ €35 million from not taking up options on Zarate, Palombo, and Guarin. Assuming we have this €80m for transfers (hey, it’s my fantasy world!), we can do a great job of rebuilding with that.
The Remaining Squad.
GK: Cesar, Castellazzi
FB: Nagatomo, Zanetti, Faraoni
CB: Samuel, Lucio, Chivu, Ranocchia, Juan, Caldirola
CM/DM: Cambiasso, Stankovic, Poli, Obi
AM: Alvarez, Coutinho
FW: Milito, Forlan, Castaignos
Moves in the transfer market.
GK: We are good here. We should just promote youth player Di Gennaro to that third spot.
FB: We definitely need 2 top players here. I like Benatia of Udinese, who can play RB or CB. I also like Isla and Armero. Lets raid Udinese!
CB: We are a bit short here, but we could manage with these resources in a season with no CL to play for, hopefully giving some chances to the young lads (Ranocchia, Caldirola, Benedetti & Juan). We have great youth talent available in this area, and getting a top player may be a quick fix, but we will risk letting our talent go to waste again. I hope we instead develop them over the next 2-3 years, even at the risk of inconsistency over the next season or two, so that we may end up with a top player or two from this lot.
CM/DM: I would like a top DM here, hopefully a ball playing one. Perhaps a 10m spend here (which is earmarked for Guarin) will be better spent on a quality, strong destroyer. If we can't find “an Essien”, I wouldn’t mind a more attacking player, a direct replacement for the aging Stankovic... I really like Asamoah of Udinese. Or maybe Prandelli can convince Montolivo to join us, instead of Milan?
AM: That depends on the coach, whether we will play with wingers or not. If its Prandelli, then I guess a few hopeful punts on players like Vargas or Schelotto or Cerci may be needed. Vargas(due to his current form/fitness issues) may be available on a cheap, and Prandelli knows how to get the best out of him. Or maybe Palacio?
FW: We definitely need a decent striker to share the goal-scoring burden of Milito, and while it may not fit in our budget, I would love to have Jovetic. Or a hopeful bid on Tevez or the misfiring Torres? A lot depends on how much money we have to spend. If we don’t have any, maybe we go for the aging but still lethal Drogba?
From Inter's youth squad.
Frankly, I would like most of our talents to be farmed out to Serie B to gain some exposure. There clearly is talent, as shown in the NextGen win, but it needs to be nurtured. Not to sell then, but send them on loan. I still regret the sale of Destro (we knew his quality, why did we ever do that?). The only ones I would promote to the senior squad right away, rotating with stints in the primavera, are the GK Di Gennaro, and talented Mr. Bessa.
So our final squad in this fantasy world. (The fantasy buys in bold below)
GK: Cesar, Castellazzi, Di Gennaro
FB: Nagatomo, Zanetti, Faraoni, Isla, Benatia
CB: Samuel, Lucio, Chivu, Ranocchia, Juan, Caldirola
CM/DM: Cambiasso, Stankovic, Poli, Obi, Asamoah
AM: Alvarez, Coutinho, Cerci, Bessa
FW: Milito, Forlan, Castaignos, Jovetic
Its an ambitious wishlist.
Isla, Benatia, Asamoah, Cerci & Jovetic should combined cost at least €80m on the transfer market, but its something Inter need to spend on. However, I am engaging in another bit of fantasy here. These players could be worth more, and even though they are selling clubs, they may not sell so many players at once. Specially Jovetic will be a very tricky & difficult transfer, with his cult status and loyalty at Florence. However, none of these are impossible targets. And there are similar options available (Armero, Schelotto, etc).
Inter will need to get these players (or equivalents) to make their project successful. These are all quite young players (aged 23, 25, 23, 24 and 22 years respectively), which is the kind of revolution Inter need. If we get these players, or equivalent ones, maybe in the future we will look at the sacrifice of Sneidjer like we do at the sacrifice of Ibrahimovic. Only in this case, the returns will be a bit more long term.
The new look 1st and 2nd XI, in a Prandelli style 4-2-3-1
If Inter have a revolution like that, I would be quite happy. This may not win us the Scudetto right away, but should be enough to put us back into the CL spots, and with so many young talents, we can hope to see improvement year on year. Its a start Inter could also build on every summer, slowly changing the old with the new, without impacting the quality and balance too much. In 2-3 years time, we can hope for this Inter to become champions of Italy again, and perhaps challenging in the Champions League.
To sum it up, we cannot waste time with quick fixes and short term solutions anymore. Its time we invest in a long term project, keep investing on quality youth, and grow with patience and calmness. Its time to instil some calmness in this “pazza Inter” to build another “la Grande Inter” in 2-3 years time.