Saturday’s front page of the Gazzetta dello Sport summed it up perfectly. A ‘crazy idea’ they headlined when discussing a possible swap deal which would see Antonio Cassano move to Inter and Giampaolo Pazzini to Milan. Less than a week later and, with the transfers now official, it’s still verging on madness.
Cassano’s decision to hand in a transfer request is the latest own goal in a career which has never reached the heights it should have done. He obviously has his reasons for wanting to leave the Diavolo, but the club’s economic crisis which led to the high profile sales of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic offered him an opportunity to finally step up – at the age of 30 – and make the difference for a giant of the European game this term.
Boss Massimiliano Allegri may not have had Cassano at the forefront of his plans this season, but tactical decisions made in August are always subject to change. It would have been up to Cassano to prove his worth in training instead of turning his back on a club who, let us not forget, kept his Euro 2012 dream alive after his stroke last autumn.
Tactically too, Milan are probably a better home for the Bari-native when you consider what Andrea Stramaccioni has at his disposal already across the city. With Wesley Sneijder and €10.5m Rodrigo Palacio, as well as the highly promising Philippe Coutinho, is Cassano really needed on the black and blue side of San Siro?
There are similar concerns about Pazzini’s suitability for Milan. Sure, they are missing a striker after Ibrahimovic joined Paris Saint-Germain, but the Italian international is a player who primarily thrives on crosses and Milan don’t really play that way. They haven’t for some time. One also doubts whether he can co-exist alongside Alexandre Pato, a player who Allegri is clearly counting on in 2012-13.
Replacing Ibra, especially in the current economic climate, may be impossible, but Pazzini is coming off a disastrous year which saw him net just five goals in 33 top flight games last time around. It’s hardly an enticing calling card for fans who have seen a host of their legendary players leave and two of the League’s best players sacrificed.
The economic aspect of the deal is also worthy of a raised eyebrow. Milan’s decision to willingly hand over around €7m to Inter to complete the move is hugely dubious. Pazzini is two years younger than Cassano and was contracted to Inter until 2015, while Cassano’s deal expired in 2014, but the financial package negotiated seems too heavily tilted in Inter’s favour. During a summer where Milan have been punished for loose spending in the past, it’s a surprise that they agreed to such terms.
While totally unexpected before the weekend, the reality is that this transfer is unimaginative and one of convenience in these problematic thrifty times. In a nutshell, one player wanted to leave and the other was placed on the transfer list. Only time will tell whether there will be any big winners in this affair, but there is an argument that Cassano would have been better off staying with Milan and Inter would have been wiser to give Pazzini another chance in the vice-Diego Milito role.