International breaks to many are nothing more than an inconvenience that diverts attention away from the drama and passion of the domestic game. Add to this mix the fact that your national team has ripped out your heart at the last World Cup and it is clear to see why interest is lacking when qualifiers start up again. When this happens the media and it seems even Massimo Moratti need to find a way to entertain themselves.
Whilst strolling around San Mauro Forte the Inter chairman was approached by around 300 fans who were asking him for a “Christmas present” in the January transfer market. Moratti must have been feeling mischievous as his reply left the perusing Interisti dead in their tracks as he said: “Fine, I promise Messi,” This was no doubt said with tongue in cheek although he must have known that the papers would make something of this as Messi was in Milan at this time dining with Ezequiel Lavezzi. La Gazzetta dello Sport followed this up very quickly also stating that it is rumoured that Inter’s chief technical director Marco Branca was in Spain at a meeting at the same time.
The reason that this story is different from any other transfer rumour is the way in which it comes together, Moratti did indeed say that he is looking to sign Messi whether with a rye smile or not and Messi was indeed in Milan even if for other reasons. The story that then came out the next day suggested a longer term strategy was in place and that Inter actually have first refusal on Messi according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Add to this the fact that Marco Branca has already dined with Messi’s father – who incidentally wants him to marry an Italian women – and the plot thickens. Javier Zanetti who will when he retires become Inter’s technical director has a good relationship with Messi and it is said that he will become his first major signing in 2013. It is indeed a very clever story but when there are so many aspects to this it usually has some truth in it.
In this era of big money players and transfer windows it seems that teams are linked with almost everyone, Inter this week have been linked with seven players and there is more than likely little truth in any. Karim Benzema and Kaka are the most persistent and the latter seems to be the only that holds any possibility due to the now customary welcome mat that is given out by the players of the club the target is destined for. Javier Zanetti said of Kaka that: “We are speaking about a great champion. He would be welcomed well by an already strong group.” Dejan Stankovic to has also welcomed the ex-Milan player but to what avail is still to be seen. What can be certain is that everyone other than Moratti will be focusing on one thing only and that is the next game away at Cagliari. Inter face Cagliari in Sardinia this weekend with three points being a must. Level on points with Milan and Napoli and two behind Lazio, the Nerazzurri must assume that the title pretenders will all pick up maximum points and therefore they will have to do everything possible to keep in the mix. Rafael Benitez will have to look to his squads depth for the match as both Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso have both picked up identical hamstring injuries an are sidelined for a month each. On a more positive note Walter Samuel and Thiago Motta are now both back to full fitness and should both feature at some point in the game. The line up is suspected to have the dependable Julio Cesar in goal with a back four of Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Cristian Chivu in front of him, Zanetti and Stankovic will play as the holding players whilst the Wesley Sneijder will drop in behind Goran Pandev, Jonathan Biabiany and Samuel Eto’o.
Rafael Benitez would no doubt love Messi and Kaka to choose from this week as would any manager in the world, however, although Moratti has set the media wondering if this is possible there is the job of winning in Sardinia to think about. It is true that the story behind Lionel Messi seems to look like a long term plan but it is to the here and now that Inter will focus.