Manchester City finally completed the capture of the broody but talented Mario Balotelli for a suspected £28m. Fans of the Nerazzurri will be left thinking about what could have been. If Mancini does manage to use “Super Mario” in the right way and gives him regular games then the youngster has the potential to be devastating. The flip side of the coin however, will be the return of harmony to the Inter dressing room as Balotelli failed to endear himself to many of Inter’s squad with Marco Materazzi and Ivan Cordoba being the main players with whom relations were strained. Without doubt the black sheep of the Inter family, Balotelli seems to have fallen out of love with Italy as a whole. Gigi Riva commented that Balotelli “made a lifestyle choice, as it had become impossible to play in Italy,” President Moratti must have realised that there was no longer any point trying to convince him to stay.
What of a replacement? Is it even possible to find a direct replacement for a player with that much natural ability? Inter have not tried to, they have instead looked for a different type of attacking option in the form of Genoa’s Giuseppe Sculli. Reported to cost £5m the 29 year old was in tears as he applauded his fans at the end of Genoa’s last match, stating that “All of them have been important to me over these years and I thank them very much. I have experienced something wonderful and Inter would be the culmination of a dream, they are the best team in the world. Even my mates are happy for me because I have the opportunity to wear such a prestigious jersey.” Sculli, who plays as a winger, scored 18 goals in 106 games for Genoa and will certainly give the Nerazzurri a new dimension in the final third.
The other main talking points in relation to Inter’s summer transfer policy have been the future of Douglas Maicon and Javier Mascherano. Moratti told the Corrire dello Sport that “I can confirm that Maicon is not transferable. If Real Madrid really wanted him, they should have tried harder. We’re not letting go of him, because he’s a very strong player.” This seems to have quashed all thoughts of the Brazilian joining his former Coach at Real Madrid, especially after he is apparently now looking for a new deal to keep him there for the foreseeable future.
Javier Mascherano has been Rafael Benitez’s main target from day one, however, he has been hampered by Moratti’s insistence that no player can come in unless another leaves the club. This has stalled the move and it has been widely assumed that as soon as the transfer of Mario Balotelli had been finalised then the capture of the tough Argentinean holding player would be completed. Roy Hodgson of Liverpool has said that he can leave the club for the right price but insists no offers have come in as yet, although reports have been circulating that Barcelona have decided to enter the fight for his signature.
Inter received good news when Diego Milito and captain Javier Zanetti both extended their contracts. Milito has added a one year extension to his current deal which will see him ply his trade at the Giuseppe Meazza until 2014 whilst Zanetti has signed a two year deal which will see him play with the Nerazzurri until he is 39 years old and will surely retire. Moratti has been especially keen on holding onto the assets he already has and who could blame him as Inter have managed to get five men on the shortlist for the prestigious Uefa’s Club Footballer of the Year award. Julio Cesar, Lucio and Maicon are joined by Diego Milito and Wesley Sneijder in contesting for the honour which will be presented in Monaco on the 26th August. A winner in this category could be a real boost to the players who performed so admirably last season.
A bigger impact and better start to the season however, could be made in the up and coming Super Coppa (21st August vs. Roma) and the European Super Cup (August 27th vs. Athletico Madrid) The Milan team will be hoping that other than the loss of Balotelli they remain as strong as ever and will be able to approach their opening Serie A game against Bologna with two trophies already won.