Last week, I analysed the Top 10 Worst Transfers of Moratti Era. But even the weakest has a strong point. Albeit Inter has done so many terrible transfers, Moratti and his mercato team still show their sanity and intelligence by conducting good transfers. Although the ratio between the good and bad transfers is about 1:8 to 1:10, at least there are some great signings to keep Inter in the Europe elite circle.
Again, the list is not about who is the best player ever at Inter. It is neither about how skillful is the player nor about his contribution only. It is about the player who contributes the most with least price. For example, if somehow Itner buy Messi for € 200 million and score with the same rate like he does in Barca, he still is rated as decent or good transfer, not brilliant, as we expect nothing less from such transfer.
Ibrahimovic (in : € 24.8 million, out : 80m), Ronaldo (in : 28m, out : 0) , Christian Vieri (in : 45m, out : 0), Recoba (in : 17m, out : 0)
Before we enter to top 10 best transfer, let me introduce the grey areas. These are high profile names who seemed like good transfers but, after giving deeper thought, one could wonder if they were really good. Ibra brought Inter all the domestics trophies, but on darker side, he brought his notorious European curse to the club which never won UCL since 1966.
Ronaldo was the most gifted player in Inter squad ever, but he only won 1 UEFA Cup. Twice he did almost get his hand on the Scudetto, only to lose in final matches as Pietro Cecarini robbed the title in 1998 and the whole team played terribly in 2002. They were not Ronaldo’s fault and Ronaldo was the best player in every season, but sadly statistics don’t have sentiment. His record in Inter is 49 goals in 68 matches. Excellent goal per game stat, but 68 matches in 4 seasons was way too few for a player who smashed world transfer record.
Vieri’s case was almost the same with Ronaldo, only worse. Broke the world transfer record but gave 0 titles for Nerazzurri. His stat was 103 goals in 145 games, excellent. But it was expected from the world's most expensive player. Zero titles and a rebellious attitude at the end of his Inter career, it was a close call and Vieri doesn’t make it to this list.
Out of 4 players, Recoba was the worst. He was an unknown player when Inter bought him. It seemed the transfer would turn out to be a masterpiece as he showed terrific talent especially on his dream debut. But too bad he didn’t have the mentality to compete at high level and his susceptibility to injury didn’t allow him to contribute much for Inter. Also, he was an apple to Moratti’s eye, thus pushed Moratti to fire any coach who didn’t fit Recoba in the system. Furthermore, Recoba was the highest paid player in the world back then, although his contribution was relative low. Indirectly, Recoba brought more instability to an already turbulent Inter.
Honourable mention to decent and good transfers like Zamorano, Djorkaeff, Cauet, Pagliuca, Toldo, Samuel etc.
10. Ivan Cordoba (in :14m, out : -)
An stalwart in Inter defence since 2000. His short frame didn’t obstruct him from being one of the world's best defenders back then. Since his arrival at Inter, he already secured 1 spot in center back and became vice-captain until now. As age began to devour his fine physical quality, he became a sub player and rarely got any playing time. Inter must be thankful for Cordoba because he never complained about his lack of appearances and it is the ultimate proof of his loyalty to Inter. At the end of the season, he will retire at the club he loves and every true Interisti must love him too. Close call between Cordoba and Samuel as both of them are terrific defenders. Considering Samuel costed Inter about € 25 million while Cordoba € 14 million and the latter played longer, Cordoba won the place.
9. Dejan Stankovic (in : 4m, out : ?)
A surprisingly cheap transfer for a player of Stankovic's calibre. Back then in Lazio, Stankovic was one of Lazio's best players, but the financial crisis in Lazio forced them to sell him mid season at low price. A versatile and adventurous midfielder with great defence and passing ability, Deki could play anywhere in midfield with excellence. When he joined Inter mid season, he became important immediately and he is still a regular first team player for current Inter. Now, he doesn’t have those legs and lungs to run for 90 minutes and there is decline in many departments, but he remains as one of the best signing by the Nerazzurri.
8. Thiago Motta (in : 15m, out : 11.5m)
You only realize how precious someone is when you lose him. That’s what happened to Inter when selling Motta to PSG. His game was all about simple pass and breaking up opponent’s attacks before they began. A typical modern central midfielder like Carrick, Busquet, or Yaya Toure. Nothing stood out in his play to convince Inter board to keep him. Ranieri asked to not sell him as he realized the player’s importance, but the request fell to deaf ears. As soon as Motta departed, Inter began to crumble. When Motta played, Inter raked up 95 % winning ratio including 7 consecutives victories. But after he was sold, Inter lost 8 and drew 1, the results which resulted in Ranieri's dismissal.
It was then when Inter realized they relied on Motta too much in simple but important aspects. When Inter wanted to start the offence, the defenders tended to pass the ball to Motta. And when the opponents were about to attack, Motta was their first barrier, held them out to buy time for the defence to organize themselves. They were simple tasks, no flashy clearance, no spectacular interception, rare killer pass, rare shot. He was a jack of all trades, but without the jack, you cannot complete the royal flush.
7. Diego Milito (in : 20m, out : ?)
The most expensive player in this top 10 list. Inter bought Milito and Motta at the same time. Milito caught Inter eye with his outstanding achievement as capocannoniere with midtable club Genoa. But the reputation still didn’t convince most Interisti. Pressure in big club is completely different, let alone playing in UCL. Milito didn’t have any experience in high-level competition, not in club level, not in national team so it was just natural for every Interisti to doubt him. How relieved are the Interisti when he proved they were wrong. He scored all the winners to seal the treble. In Serie-A, 2 goals in 2-0 against Siena, 1-0 against Rome, and double again in 2-0 against Munich. And he still is the main scoring machine for Inter. Although his reputation was tainted when injury plagued him, fetching him the Bidone D’oro (Serie A's biggest flop) award, he proved everyone that he still is a deadly striker by leading Inter scoring chart and putting himself in 4th position in the Serie A top scorers this season with 20 goals.
6. Lucio (in : 7m, out : ?)
He was Munich's key defender until Van Gaal came and omitted him from his plans. Mourinho-Oriali didn’t miss the chance to land him at Inter. Lucio teamed up with Samuel, forming a Latino duet and they managed to quell down every attack thrown at them. Lucio became an important element in Mourinho's system and he showed his best individual defending quality when he completely nullified Drogba's threat when Inter met Chelsea. Against Barcelona in the semifinal, once again Lucio and co defended valiantly against the storm of Blaugrana. As Mourinho instructed to defend very deeply and centrally, letting Barca moved to flank. Barca’s lack of aerial threat was one thing, but it were the quality of Lucio and Samuel which allowed Mourinho to let the crossing come as he trusted Lucio-Samuel would thwart the attack. And in final, Lucio got sweet revenge against his former club and the coach who wasted him.
Currently, Lucio is not the same force as he was 2 years ago. Age has slowed down his movement and reaction. Also, he began to lose his discipline after Mourinho went and he started to do his trademark runs again, leaving a worried Inter defence. Neverthless, Lucio is still a key defender for Inter and he is still unreplaceable.
5. Maicon (in : 6.8m, out : ?)
He was in Brazil national team since 2003 and became main right back after Cafu retired. But it was his move to Inter which propelled his name as the elite fullback. And after he won his personal duel with Dani Alves, he confirmed himself as the world's best right back and an automatic choice for Brazil right back spot.
As a marauding fullback, Maicon became an important attacking outlet from the right flank. Fast and powerful, he bursts past the right flank leaving his marker in his trail then providing crosses for Milito to finish. A typical Brazilian fullback just like Jorginho, Cafu, and Carlos. Defensively, he did his duty well and proved to be more reliable than Alves. and he could score too. The goal against Juventus in 2010 was an absolute beauty. And his goal in World Cup 2010 against North Korea gave his team a momentum after scoreless 55 minutes.
4. J. Cesar (in : 0, out : ?)
Snapped up on free transfer and soon loaned to Chievo. He was undisputed first team goalkeeper in Flamengo and he also grabbed the position as Brazil main goalkeeper in 2004. But he still had much to prove. With Toldo still delivering good performances between the post, it seemed Cesar would be his sub until his playing day was over. But Cesar took Toldo place faster than expected and he never looked back ever since. Everyone has already lost count on how many times Cesar has saved Inter from a certain loss. When it seemed Inter will concede a certain goal, in comes Cesar with his stunning saves. What a quality player for free.
3. Esteban Cambiasso (in : 0, out : ?)
Another masterpiece transfer from Inter. Inter didn’t sweat over the transfer thanks to the poor concept of Los Galacticos of Fiorentino Perez. Perez was notorious for being unappreciative of defensive midfielders, as evidenced by his disposing of his key player Makelele. The year after Makelele was sold, Madrid didn’t extend Cambiasso’s contract and Inter got his signature without paying even single penny. The new signing contributed immediately in his first season by forming a creative-destructive core in central midfield alongside Veron. Along with Kaka, Cambiasso and Veron were known as the best performing midfielders in 04/05 season. Veron and Kaka moved on to other clubs, but Cambiasso pledged his loyalty to Inter and maintained his high level of performance for years.
As a defensive midfielder, Cambiasso is a different breed unlike his rivals in the position like Makelele and Gattuso. While both of them played hard and did whatever it took to dispossess their opponents, Cambiasso used a more gentle approach. His knack of correct timing and positioning allows him to intercept the ball without the risk of fouling and yellow cards, let alone the red card. He began to lose form for a while when he frequently thrusted forward and acted as attacing midfielder. Still unknown whether it was a personal initiative or the coach's (read : Ranieri) instruction. Under Stramaccioni, he returned to his natural domain as a pure defensive midfielder and he doesn’t disappoint. Perhaps it would take another few games to regain his confidence and instinct back and he will become the world's best defensive midfielder once again.
2. Samuel Eto’o (in : -80 m, out : 15 m)
The most beneficial trade ever in footbally history. Barca bought Ibrahimovic with 60 million cash plus Eto’o, whose estimated cost was 20 million. Economically, Eto’o-Ibra trade is the best trade ever because quality gap between them was not much. Yet Barca gave 60 million to Inter for the swap. And the best transfer became even better considering Inter managed to move the CL jynx to their European rival (Ibra).
Eto’o became a key player in treble glory while Ibra failed hard in Catalan. Eto’o used to be the main goalscorer, but thanks to Mourinho he was willingly demoted to be Milito’s support. It was an utter surprise because Eto’o was known for his selfish character. Next season in 2010/2011, Eto’o singlehandedly propelled Inter to decent position in an otherwise forgettable season. And then, at the beginning of 2011/2012 season, Anzhi offered 15 million for Eto’o. Of course the offer was too good to be turned down. Imagine, 15 million for 30 years old striker who had begun to lose his trademark speed. By the time Eto’o left to Russia, he brought the benefits which no one could ever imagine. The total was approximately 75 million cash with 5 trophies. Sweet.
But wait, how come the best transfer ever is positioned at 2nd on this list? Well, the 1st must be so special, isn’t it?
1. Javier Zanetti (In : 6.5m, out : never)
Regardless how many million Euros and trophies Eto’o had brought to Inter, he would never beat Zanetti for the best transfer in Moratti's history. Zanetti was the first transfer of Moratti when he was still a relatively unknown 21 year old Argentinian right back. Who ever guessed he would be one of the greatest players ever – if not the greatest - in Internazionale Milano's history? Moratti himself admitted that Zanetti was the best transfer he has ever done. And, considering how much contribution he has given to Inter, 1st is the most appropriate position.
Maybe Zanetti didn’t bring in 75 million like Eto’o did, but he repaid his 6.5 million price tag with 797 caps, captain for 10 consecutive years, and 15 trophies. Those were the statistics which no Inter player has ever achieved. And he still has the chance to add the tally.
Also, it was as if Inter bought 2 or 3 players simultaneously when they bought him. He runs up and down the pitch, sometimes from right flank to left, and he does it without stopping. He is capable of playing as a fullback, winger, defensive midfielder, and central midfielder. Don’t forget, he can play at either flank, which makes it 6 positions in total. Also, he rarely succumbs to injury and suspension thus allows him to play almost every match with his trademark outstanding consistency and hard work. Besides his on-the-pitch contribution, Zanetti also gives off-the-pitch contribution such as exemplary attitude and loyalty which are very rare in the current football world. Simply, he is the perfect transfer for every club in the world.