Due to the controversy caused by Inter's market moves, I have decided to break down Inter's Transfer Window in order to help fans of football understand why and how, Inter will maneuver through the final weeks of the summer in order to prepare not only for next season, but for a project to be continued for many years to come. Part I will cover Inter's new footballing philosophy, and how this has helped to form their transfer policy. Part II will encompass the departures to be expected and why they are happening. Part III will look at the potential arrivals to Inter's squad for next season.
Part I: Change in Footballing Philosophy
Following Inter's Treble win in 2010, Jose Mourinho left the club for Real Madrid. This single action was the turning point for Inter's future. Without the manager that he had truly trusted and probably the only man that he had ever given free reign over the management of the club, Massimo Moratti began to make significant changes and restrictions upon the club. After appointing Rafael Benitez, Moratti chose not to pursue the targets Benitez asked for, and implored Benitez to continue to win with the aging stars that were left over from Mourinho's reign. Benitez failed miserably, and the coaching carousel continued. Moratti gave Leonardo a healthy transfer budget for the Winter transfer window, and Leonardo was able to right the ship and close out Inter's season with a Coppa Italia win. Unfortunately for Moratti, Leonardo left the club to eventually join a project at PSG (to be subsidized by Middle Eastern Riches) and Moratti was once again forced to appoint a new coach. The club had been in the midst of a financial turmoil and Gian Piero Gasperini was given the task of leading Inter, but had to deal with a miserable summer saga that included Eto'o's sale to raise funds, and the Wesley Sniejder transfer rumors that will remain legendary for many transfer window's to come. One of the most dramatic time's in the club's history led to one of the worst starts to a season that the club had ever had. Moratti limited Gasperini's transfer budget and the coach failed to sign the targets that he had requested. A makeshift squad that was supposed to contend had fallen apart. Claudio Ranieri was hired to fix Gasperini's mistakes, and had done fairly well, until Moratti sold Thiago Motta to PSG. Ranieri's team spiraled out of control and Moratti's hand was forced once again. Only this time, something incredible was happening within the organization.
Although the first team was struggling, Inter's academy had been experiencing the greatest period of growth it had seen in years. Andrea Stramaccioni had created a devastating force of a team in the Primavera, and his work had not gone unnoticed. Moratti handed Stramaccioni the keys to the first team, and told him that he had until the end of the season to prove that he could lead the first team. Stramaccioni led Inter to their best performances all season, which culminated in Inter's 4-2 derby defeat of AC Milan. Although they failed to qualify for the Champions League, Inter had been left with two things that they had not seen since Mourinho's time; A young, modern, progressive coach with a gift for communicating with his players (Veterans Milito, Zanetti, Cambiasso, and Sneijder, all gave riveting endorsements of Stramaccioni, and pleaded for him to be installed as the permanent coach), and a strong foundation of youth players with exciting future's.
Andrea Stramaccioni is the focal point for Inter's new footballing philosophy. His tactics and ideas are different from Inter's previous philosophy of very direct play with a rigid formation and focus of defensive solidarity and capitalization of chances created from the counter. Stramaccioni promotes a more attacking game, with fluidity and focus on possession. Although the club's footballing philosophy has changed, Moratti has put his belief in Stramaccioni because of the promise shown by Inter's academy to be able to adapt to Stramaccioni's method.
Inter will look very different next season, but for good reason. Fans of Inter can hope to see a team with greater attacking intent, and a knack for keeping possession.
FINANCES - Many Italian Clubs have been forced to change their transfer policies in recent years as their has been a significant decline in financial status. Inter have not escaped this situation, and in recent years, they have been forced to sell off stars such as Samuel Eto'o and Thiago Motta, in order to balance the books. Moratti seems determined to revamp the squad for the upcoming season, but has chosen to do so by funding the arrivals via transfer revenue gained from departures. Moratti is keen on keeping the squad strong, whilst selling individuals with high market value (ex. Pazzini), and by clearing the high wages off the books (Lucio, J.Cesar, Maicon). This transfer revenue, along with the usual personal cash injection from Moratti, will fund the rest of Inter's summer projects.
AGE - Age has easily been the most controversial aspect of Inter's transfer window. Many fans of football are puzzled by Inter's seemingly "hypocritical" moves this window, and I am here to set the record straight and clear up the confusion. Inter's supposed youth movement is in fact taking place, however, a switch over to a more youthful side can not happen straight away. Inter's best prospects are still years away from being ready to lead the club to challenge for silverware. Samuele Longo and Coutinho are exciting prospects, but can they lead the front line of a major club yet? No, of course not. Inter must find the right balance of experience and youth in order to stay at the top of Europe's elite, as their younger stars develop into World Class players. Inter must have players in the squad who are 30+ that can help guide the younger players. It is a matter of determining WHICH older players to have within the squad. Inter have placed J.Cesar, Maicon, and quite possibly Stankovic, on the market, as well as terminating Lucio's contract, because of their wages. Clearing their salaries off the books allows Inter to continue to develop the team and spend the money elsewhere. Understanding this makes it easier to see why signing Rodrigo Palacio, and Gaby Mudingayi (almost a done deal), both players who are 30 years of age, was done by the management. They have signed veterans of Serie A, who do not command high wages, and are still capable of performing at a high level. Inter brought in the experience first. The club has their experienced foundation in Milito, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Samuel, Chivu, Palacio, and Mudingayi. Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Stankovic, and Pazzini's wages are all expected to be cleared off the books. Inter fans will see in the coming weeks that the club will be linked to players under the age of 27 for the rest of the transfer window. This is where the youth movement will continue.
POSITIONS - The impending departures discussed above will lead to Inter searching for youthful (27 years of age and under) replacements. Goalkeeper, Left/Right Wing Back, Central Midfield (with a defensive focus), Central Defender, and Attacker (on the wing, and centrally) will be the positions that Inter focuses on, and will be covered in greater detail in Part 3 - Arrivals.
That is all for Part 1. Part II will encompass the departures to be expected and why they are happening. Part III will look at the potential arrivals to Inter's squad for next season.