When Marco Branca finally vacated his position as the technical director at Inter following the Fredy Guarin–Mirko Vucinic swap saga, Inter fans at once breathed a sigh of relief and then worried about how would replace him.
Piero Ausilio was a man who had worked with Inter for a few years, predominantly on the technical and scouting side, but whether he had the market nous was unknown. But, with five shrewd acquisitions for a very small price, he is justifying being given the role.
The deal for Nemanja Vidic was already done, but Ausilio can take full credit for getting Yann M’Vila, Dodo, Osvaldo and, soon-to-be, Medel. All four have been acquired as part of a wider club strategy to recruit youth and they have a common factor uniting them – a hunger to prove themselves.
M’Vila had attracted a lot of attention from Europe’s top clubs during his time at Rennes. The France U-19 international had become known for his hard tackling and ball distribution, with Marcel Desailly even saying in 2012 that ‘he could be better than Patrick Vieira’.
In spite of such promise that had seen him make the Ligue 1 Team of the Year for 2010-11, M’Vila drifted off. His performances became more sporadic and at one stage the Rennes fans turned their back on him for his perceived lack of effort. A €12m move to Rubin Kazan was seen as a sign of the player’s lack of ambition.
But, now M’Vila has taken a pay cut and even refused a golden shake from Kazan to ease his passage to Inter. He explained his decision in his opening presser: “It's not just about the money but what the team can offer you on the pitch. I see the club has big plans, they want to get back to the top and that's exactly where I want to be.”
Dodo, who joined soon after, is another player eager for a chance. The 22-year-old left-back had been linked to Europe’s elite after a series of great displays for Brazil in the South American U-17 Championship back in 2009. He eventually came to the peninsula in 2012, when Roma signed him up.
However, he found his chances with the Giallorossi limited as he was first stuck behind the likes of Federico Balzaretti in the pecking order, before emerging last term under Rudi Garcia. At Inter, he is not expected to begin as first-choice either, but he is a player who Coach Walter Mazzarri wanted, to provide more options for deploying his favoured 3-5-2 formation.
He was a starter in the friendly games against Real Madrid and Manchester United during the International Champions Cup and also against his former side, delivering a precise cross for Nemanja Vidic’s opener in that 2-0 win. Such performances will definitely help him with his morale going into the new season.
And then come the two new acquisitions from England, Osvaldo and Medel. The Italy international is better known in his homeland for his flamboyant lifestyle than his goals, but he has been a target of Mazzarri’s for some time.
In his opening Press conference, the forward stated he would like to turn that image around following a dismal year at Southampton: “I really want to be a key performer again. I'm determined to get back playing as I know I can, and show what I can do in this shirt.”
At 28, he knows this could be his last chance at a big club and the pressure to deliver on him will be great. However, given Inter’s still strong Argentine contingent, gelling in will not be too much of an issue. And alongside Rodrigo Palacio and Mauro Icardi he gives Mazzarri another diverse option in the final third.
The latest arrival is set to be Gary Medel, who is getting his first spell at a traditional big club. The Chilean impressed for Cardiff last year, and even went some way to dispelling his bad boy reputation earned at Sevilla by going the Premier League campaign without a single red card and only six yellows.
The midfielder was very impressive in Chile’s World Cup campaign, and he is expected to replace Esteban Cambiasso in the Nerazzurri midfield. Former-Inter player Ivan Zamorano was quick to praise his compatriot’s acquisition: “He is a mix between Diego Simeone and Paul Ince. He never leaves the pitch without having given everything.”
In M’Vila and Medel, Inter could well have two wrecking balls in the midfield and it will be interesting to see how and if Mazzarri manages to fit them both into the side. Interestingly, all four of the players mentioned have arrived on loans, and hardly cost La Beneamata much.
Given their fiery personalities, Inter fans will hope that there are no dressing room clashes and that the fire is restricted to the pitch. It seems now that the team has the tools to put up a fight for a top-three spot.