Inter’s broken negotiations with Juventus over Fredy Guarin and Mirko Vucinic’s swap represents a PR disaster for the Nerazzurri, says Jeremy Lim.
In the end, fan power prevailed. Fredy Guarin’s switch from Inter to Juventus in exchange for Mirko Vucinic was called off on Tuesday due to the widespread protests of Nerazzurri supporters, yet the whole affair still reads like an unmitigated public relations disaster for the side.
Afraid of being played as fools on the transfer front again, irate fans boycotted the Colombian’s departure, making their distaste of the administration who sanctioned the move loud and vocal in front of the club’s offices. It eventually took President Erick Thohir’s intervention to pull the plug on the deal that would have seen Vucinic and a token fee move the other way.
“I felt it was not possible to reach an agreement on a deal in which the opinions of the two parties differed and which did not offer a clear financial or technical benefit to the club,” the patron clarified. “I believe we must all remain united, the fans, the club and the team so that we can get back to the standing we all want for this club and that Inter deserves.”
Except, just months into his reign to restore Inter to past glories, Thohir is struggling to retain charge of the collective will at La Pinetina as confusion reigns. Coach Walter Mazzarri apparently threatened to resign following last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Genoa if not furnished with the striker he was so actively seeking in the winter market. Meanwhile, Guarin’s alleged decision to go on strike from contractual obligations will not sit well with the club faithful after notable run-ins this season.
Divided and rudderless, Inter lacked the clear framework to find a joint solution to satisfy all parties. The vital day-to-day touch of Thohir remains virtually unfeasible with the media mogul thousands of kilometres away in Indonesia. “Italian football is accustomed to having the very strong presence of a President in the club’s communications,” director and popular fans’ scapegoat Marco Fassone pointedly stated.
Perhaps the flashpoint would not have been allowed to develop unabated with Thohir’s closer involvement. Inter were a victim of their own devices from day one. Promised a wage increase and a contract extension by the old administration under Massimo Moratti, Guarin saw plans effectively scuppered with the new President’s entry.
Proposing a new salary cap instead and alluding to the squad’s stars being available to interested bidders, Thohir failed to note Guarin’s tangible frustration as the team started dropping points following a bright opening to the campaign. The 27-year-old’s angry reaction to substitutions began rubbing the San Siro crowd the wrong way. Directors Piero Ausilio and Marco Branca eventually set about finding a lucrative resolution in the January market, but apparent failure to strike a transfer to Chelsea or Tottenham saw interest from the Premier League wane, temporarily at least.
Juventus sniffed their opportunity and swooped. Ausilio duly accepted, cornered by the abrasive midfielder whose mind was bent on leaving. Then the heartfelt angst of Inter supporters brought advanced negotiations to a screeching halt. It was not as if Guarin was any particular world-beater - some quarters even considered him an enigma within the squad. But offloading a prized asset to the Nerazzurri’s arch-rivals was deemed to undermine the club’s identity and the board’s credentials too severely.
Guarin stays put for now, but the fallen Milan giants have taken an irreparable hit to their reputation over the farce. There will be a massive cleanup job at hand. Heads will roll in the aftermath even if the immediate melodrama has been put to a stop. Branca’s job is already believed to be on the line, and the unpopular transfer chief is expected to pay the price for his lack of stomach.
The mismanagement of the entire Guarin saga leaves Inter with an urgent need to reassess her transfer options now. The outfit entered 2014 optimistic about cashing in on what had become a troublesome entity, perhaps to facilitate the arrival of a new face in attack - they have yet to achieve either now. With the clock ticking down, time is running out for Thohir and his cronies to sign reinforcements and restore an ailing campaign. Their task of digging Inter out of a newly untenable position will not be an enviable one.