Inter President Massimo Moratti has a new target in his sights and he goes by the name of Massimo Mauricio Ricardo Pinilla Ferrera. More commonly referred to as Mauricio Pinilla, the Chilean striker has been making a name for himself in Serie B with Grosseto. He is the division’s top goal scorer and is itching for a second chance with the Nerazzurri.
Pinilla started his career with his Universidad Chile in his home country where he scored 20 goals in just 39 games. This was enough to see the European vultures begin to close in and it was Inter who finally gained his signature in 2003. He was sent out on loan without much success, first to Chievo and then to Celta Vigo. The lack of game time and multiple injuries saw him become the forgotten man at Inter and, in 2004, Sporting Lisbon signed 50% of his playing rights. His time in Portugal mirrored that which he had spent in Italy with a series of loan moves to Racing Santander, Hearts and eventually back to his homeland with Universidad Chile, all of these stints being characterised by the usual lack of playing time caused by injury. Hearts, however, saw promise in the Chilean and bought out his Inter contract to secure his services. Unfortunately injury struck again and he only played twice for Hearts before eventually being released from his contract. Half a season followed at Brazilian giants Vasco De Gama, before he found himself in Greece at Apollon Limassol in January 2009. This also did not go to plan, Pinilla featuring just five times for the club before going on a free transfer back to Italy to play for Grosseto. All in all, between his signing for Inter to his return to Serie B, Pinilla had played for a total of nine clubs in six years, making sixty one appearances and scoring fourteen goals. This was an impressive record, but for all the wrong reasons.
Grosseto currently sit in second place in Italy’s Serie B after beating Brescia 3-2 this weekend. Pinilla struck twice with two unbelievable goals, the first saw the Chilean run from nearly the half-way line, skipping past three defenders before cutting inside and unleashing a 30 yard drive into the top corner. His second saw him again shimmying past defenders on the edge of the box before executing a powerful drive which flew beyond the Brescia goalkeeper. It is these spectacular goals coupled with the fact that he has scored 20 goals in 19 matches for the Tuscan side which makes Pinilla such hot property.
Having signed on a free transfer in August 2009, Pinilla has managed an impressive tally even though he has had further problems with injury. Indeed, he recently set a new league record for scoring in the last twelve consecutive matches. Many clubs have been linked to the nomadic Chilean and Grosseto sporting director Andrea Iaconi told Tuttomercato: “Fiorentina and Lazio? They are not the only clubs who have contacted us, almost every Serie A club wants Pinilla.” The Chairman seems resigned to losing his star and, if he could gain his team promotion to and make a £4-6m profit, then you could see why the arrangement would suit all interested parties.
Inter now look to lead the chase for the Chilean hit man who is being touted by all Europe’s elite. When quizzed on the player, Moratti said: “Are we interested in Pinilla? We were already interested in him and we have almost bought him”. Pinilla to seemed to corroborate this story as he was quoted saying: “Now I’m ready for Inter Milan. It’s the best to work with Mourinho”. However, Genoa president Enrico Preziosi seemed to disagree, saying that: “We have been following Pinilla for some time now. He is a player that immensely interests us, and we believe we are at an advantage compared to the other clubs also interested in him”.
One potential scenario is that, when the transfer window opens, Inter and Genoa will bid for him in a co-ownership deal that will see him play for Genoa originally and then move to Inter later, but with Pinilla now 26-years-old this seems somewhat unlikely. The two Serie A clubs will more than likely be part of a group that wants to secure Pinilla’s services. Inter would appear to be in poll position as it would seem that the San Siro is where the Grosseto front man’s heart lies.
Should Inter secure his services it may still be a gamble as constant injury and a nomadic club history do cloud his career. However, if he can stay injury free and play with the freedom and maturity that he has found at Grosseto, then the gamble may well pay off. One thing is sure about Pinilla, when firing on all cylinders he would be a joy to watch in any of Europe’s elite leagues.