Signing a 33-year-old on a three-year deal may sound like madness in the modern game, but it isn’t when the person in question is Diego Godin. Inter have brought in an experienced centre-back for free to help bolster an already-solid defence and they have also invested in a leader. Antonio Conte will need characters in the dressing room and the Uruguayan arrives full of fight and determination. What’s more, he can help those around him improve drastically.
Godin joins Inter on a free transfer and spoke well in his opening interview, praising the sporting project that is taking shape and also vowing to give his all on and off the pitch to help the club win their first piece of silverware since the Coppa Italia in 2011. If that wasn’t enough, he promised to showcase his Uruguayan spirit at San Siro.
The signing does seem similar to that of Miranda - also from Atletico Madrid - back in 2015. Despite being 29 at the time of his arrival, his experience helped steady an Inter ship that had begun creaking, as well as improve those around him. That, if nothing else, was due to his calming influence.
Godin hasn’t been brought in as a bit-part player. Conte’s 3-5-2 will see him feature in a back three consisting of himself, Stefan de Vrij and the ever-impressive Milan Skriniar. This imposing backline will benefit from the veteran’s experience, especially as they transition systems. He played 30 times in La Liga last season and six times in the Champions League, and while he certainly isn’t able to move the way he used to, he is smart tactically and has been able to adapt his game.
Perhaps one of the best ways to understand just how influential a player is in a team is to listen to his peers. Oscar Tabarez, the Uruguay Ct, waxed lyrical about the defender’s mental strength, saying he ‘represents the best of Uruguay,’ while fellow countryman Diego Forlan called him a born leader. Perhaps the most engaging comment came from Luis Suarez, another man who embodies the Uruguayan fighting spirit. “Nothing thrills me less than playing Atletico,” said the Barcelona striker. “They're so annoying and Godín is a nuisance; he's always there next to me, he never leaves me alone.”
The new challenge Godin embarks on comes after 389 games, 27 goals and eight trophies with the Madrid-based club. He is certainly not in Italy to retire and he didn’t make the decision to come to Inter lightly. When leaving Atletico, he was reduced to tears, as was his Coach Diego Simeone. Indeed, Atleti knew they were losing one of the best centre-backs in world football.
Conte’s new-look Inter certainly promises more determination, vigour, power and resilience than any of their post-2010 predecessors. This intensity will certainly test Godin’s physical ability, but he will also bring with him a level that his teammates must be able to live up to.
‘There is a new sheriff in town’ was how Inter introduced him on Monday. They couldn’t have put it any better. Not only will he marshal the defence, but he will also crack the whip on his teammates and they will be better for it. Godin isn’t here to make up the numbers. He’s here to continue being one of the best centre-backs in Europe. For him, 110 percent is the bare minimum.