‘Veni, Vidic, Vidi’ headlined La Gazzetta dello Sport after Inter topped Roma 2-0 at Lincoln Financial Field, a play on ‘veni, vidi, vici’ - ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ - and a testament to Nemanja Vidic’s influence on the pre-season fixture in Philadelphia.
The Nerazzurri have known Vidic was arriving since the winter, following his announcement he was leaving Manchester United after eight years. Whilst it’s no secret that the former Red Devils captain was also brought in by President Erick Thohir for his marketability, especially in the Asian markets, the signs from the veteran defender this summer so far have been very encouraging on the field and the club and fans are optimistic the 32-year-old will be the remedy for a backline that conceded a few too many calamitous goals last season.
In three matches against Real Madrid, Manchester United and Roma on their summer US tour, Coach Walter Mazzarri’s side conceded just once in regular time with Vidic’s performances often being praised by the pundits.
Mazzarri himself has labelled his new centre-back a ‘champion’ following that powerfully headed goal and overall impressive performance against the Giallorossi. A resume which includes five Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy certainly backs that assertion up.
It will not only be experience and market promotion that Inter will be counting on the Serbian centre-back for – it is leadership and a winning mentality. Say what you will about Andrea Ranocchia, Hugo Campagnaro, Rolando, youngster Juan Jesus and others who have slotted into Inter’s defence over the last year – they are not necessarily thought of as leaders of men.
What about Walter Samuel? Now at Basel after his contract expired. There’s no question the Argentine has a special place in Inter history for his service and trophies with the club, but at 36 years of age he is four years older than Vidic and unfortunately was only able to make 14 Serie A appearances last campaign.
Indeed, the key to Vidic’s success at San Siro will be form and fitness, as without those his leadership, experience and of course his talent will become largely ineffective, just as Samuel’s better qualities did last season.
The former Spartak Moscow player earned the nickname ‘Ivan Drago’ while playing in England, derived from the Rocky IV film’s antagonist, who was a physical specimen of strength and fitness. The Nerazzurri fans will hope that moniker holds true in Italy as a step forward in quality defending and potentially a return to Champions League football will be vitally impacted by whether the imposing defender features on the pitch for a significant portion of the season.
Vidic could well be one of the top Serie A acquisitions of the season. He has come, he has seen, and whether Inter is can conquer may be down to his ability to be on the pitch game after game.