Another international break is upon us, and it is a good time to briefly recap what the first seven games of the Serie A season have held for the reigning champions, as well as look at some transfer rumours that have come about to take the place of the usual pre-match hype.
Inter have failed to meet expectations. They have stuttered through games that they were supposed to win easily – notably against Bari and Cagliari – and much more is expected of them. The loss of Zlatan Ibrahimovic meant that coach Jose Mourinho needed some time to adjust his tactics and get the team to play without the superstar. He has now had seven league games and two Champions League encounters, in which his team have looked unconvincing despite getting results – and this is what should worry the rest of the league most. Inter are top.
For all the criticism that the team have taken, they still lead Serie A (albeit on goal difference) so when they do find their form they will surely be a class apart from the rest of Italy once again. The Champions League has been a different story, as the Nerazzurri unfortunately seem to still have a mental block in this competition. Despite having a squad that has the depth and the quality to mount a real challenge in Europe, they have been defensive and poor in their opening two games and now need to quickly get back on track or risk missing out on qualification from the group stage.
One key part of la Beneamata’s squad is goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who is widely regarded as one of the finest ‘keepers on the planet at this moment in time. Unfortunately, this has not escaped the attentions of Manchester United, and the English side are rumoured to be considering a January bid for the player. These rumours were not helped by Cesar’s wife, who posted on her blog that a large club had made enquiries about her husband’s availability for transfer. Marco Branca, Inter’s technical director, has been quick to reassure fans saying that a new contract for the goalkeeper is being drawn up. “We hope to reach an accord by the end of the month,” he said, “this is our objective.”
One player who looks like he could be on his way out is Sulley Muntari. The midfielder was booed from the pitch by his own fans whilst being substituted during Saturday’s game with Udinese, and was visibly upset by the treatment. He is said to be considering his future at the club, and Tottenham have been linked with the player. Inter meanwhile have been linked with a move for Lyon’s Jeremy Toulalan or Toulouse’s Moussa Sissoko should Muntari leave the Giuseppe Meazza. Toulalan in particular is a player that should excite the Nerazzurri faithful as he can fulfil the role that Muntari plays whilst being arguably more technically able and tactically aware than the Ghanaian international.
Goran Pandev is another player that has been linked with Inter this week, and he is certain to be leaving Lazio in the near future. Reports have suggested that he is seen as an appropriate replacement for Marko Arnautovic, who is almost certain to return to FC Twente in January as injury has stopped him from playing the requisite number of games to meet the terms of his loan contract. Although Arnautovic is undoubtedly a very talented youngster, Pandev is a much more experienced striker with a proven goalscoring record in Serie A who could contribute immediately to the Nerazzurro cause – especially given the problems up front that Inter have been experiencing of late.
The man who will be either delivering or rejecting the transfer deals – club President Massimo Moratti – is the one man who has been commenting on on-pitch activity this week, giving his thoughts last Saturday’s win over Udinese. “The team looked good to me,” said il presidente, “it was an intense match, which makes us understand that every game is difficult, especially againt well-organised teams like Udinese.”
“The important thing is that we have good team spirit and the will to win. We also have quality. As long as we keep working hard, the players will express themselves better and better.” These are the words of a season club owner, who realises that transfer talk has begun again and is anxious to stress to his coach and his team that the purchase of players will not be used as a quick fix in January.
After the international break Inter are not going to be eased back into league football gently, travelling to face a Genoa side that nearly shocked Juventus at the Luigi Ferraris only a few weeks ago. Transfer talk aside, the job for the Nerazzurri now is to make it to Christmas and be crowned winter champions, which will send out a chilling message to the rest of the league.
Inter Club Focus 2009/10
Another Scudetto for the Nerazzurri? – August 18, 2009
A stuttering start, and a Portuguese explosion – August 25, 2009
It’s derby time – August 28, 2009
A wonderful derby but the champions of Europe are waiting – September 1, 2009
All is well for la Beneamata – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Friendlies, injuries and stolen boots… – September 7, 2009
Nerazzurri look to the future as Ibra looks back – September 11, 2009
Inter get a point, but that’s not the point – September 18, 2009
They never had a problem with ugly wins – September 22, 2009
Partenopei are beaten Black and Blue – September 25, 2009
Blucerchiati run rings round Inter – September 29, 2009
Champions League? You’re having a laugh – October 2, 2009
I’d rather be lucky than good – October 6, 2009
The international break – October 6, 2009