Inter’s need of a vice-Diego Milito has been abundantly clear from the moment the last transfer window closed, till the moment this one opened.
El Principe is the only Nerazzurri player to have started every Serie A game this season. On those rare occasions when he has been unavailable or rested, Andrea Stramaccioni has been forced to shove second striker Rodrigo Palacio into an unfamiliar centre-forward role, or call upon the promising but raw Marko Livaja – the 19-year-old who underlined the need for reinforcement up front with a staggering open goal miss against Genoa just before Christmas.
Their decisiveness in identifying and recruiting their target, just a few days into 2013, therefore has to be commended. But is the new man the right man?
The Gazzetta dello Sport’s Luca Calamai certainly seems to think so. “Tommaso Rocchi is 35 but physically intact. He knows how to live as a luxury reserve in a great team. He knows the art of counter attack, the weapon most welcome at Inter. And he will cost a little more than €1m between fee and wages.”
Buying a back-up striker is a tricky business. You want someone good, but not too good. Someone who can be relied upon to make an impact off the bench or in the event of injury, but who won’t rock the boat and demand a transfer elsewhere during long spells of inactivity.
Rocchi ticks most of the boxes, but there is nonetheless a sense that Inter have set their sights a little too low with his purchase.
“The call from Inter has arrived at the right moment for him to finish his playing days in the right manner,” said the player’s agent Oscar Damiani yesterday, and few could begrudge him his wish for a swansong. A loyal servant to Lazio for eight years, Rocchi’s commitment and attitude have never been in question. But the days when he could be expected to ripple the net with any regularity are long gone.
Not since 2007-08, when his partnership with ex-Nerazzurro Goran Pandev at Lazio was in its pomp, has the Venetian hit double figures in Serie A. His cumulative total for the last three and half top flight campaigns stands at 14.
Before bringing Juventus’ 49 game unbeaten run to an end in November, Inter averaged two goals a game. Since then, the figure is 1.14.
Milito, Palacio and Antonio Cassano – more often than not Strama’s first choice attack – haven’t scored in the League since early December, mid-November and late October respectively.
These statistics suggest that rather than someone who can offer Milito a little respite from time to time, the Serpenti require someone who can offer the current front three some competition, some incentive to buck up.
Rocchi is not the man to provide it.