Friday March 23 2012
Inter are prisoners of the past

After years of inspiring Inter to success, their old guard may now actually hinder their future, writes Antonio Labbate.

“I still have two years left on my contract and I can keep pedalling,” declared Dejan Stankovic. “Everyone knows what I’m like. When I think I can no longer do it, when I feel I can no longer give to Inter everything that they deserve, I'll hold my hands up and thank the President, as well as the club, for everything I've learned and won here. When that time comes, I'll tell you, but for the moment I’m still really up for it.”

Such a statement would usually be classed as an example of commitment, but in the backdrop that has been Inter’s disappointing campaign, it is something a little more sinister. When you consider that it came from a man who many are earmarking as a player who should be sold, his stance is a clear obstacle to those at the club who will be tasked with rebuilding the Beneamata.

Stankovic is one of many, too many players over the age of 30 in the squad who are on multi-million euro contracts. Once the reason behind their domestic and international success, a group of them are now the team’s biggest hindrance when it comes to the Nerazzurri’s future.

With owner Massimo Moratti no longer pumping in the kind of lavish funds that once saw him use his loose change to pay Alvaro Recoba and the Financial Fair Play rules that were a reason behind last summer’s Samuel Eto’o exit, the club’s senators are worryingly a major drain on the finances of an outfit that will probably miss out on lucrative Champions League football next season.

While Wesley Sneijder is their best paid player, the next 11 highest wage earners are all in their 30s. From Julio Cesar and Diego Milito’s €4.5m a season down to the €3m of Ivan Cordoba, Walter Samuel, Stankovic and Javier Zanetti, the Italian giants pay their old guard a combined €40.5m per season in salary – and that’s after tax.

It’s clear that the solution is to move a substantial amount of those players on, but that is easier said than done. It’s difficult selling certain individuals after bad seasons and players of a certain age can be reluctant to move on to a smaller club, for a reduced salary, when they are still contracted. For example, who is going to pay Lucio €3.5m a season or Stankovic3m? Look at what happened at Juventus last summer when Amauri, on €3.8m, snubbed move after move. He wasn’t alone in Turin either.

The other aspect to consider is that those individuals who are on the wrong side of 30, with admirers, are likely to be the same men who Inter would presumably want to keep to maintain a certain amount of experience in the squad and first team.

Such numbers all add up to the prospect that who Inter buy will depend on whom they can sell first. After so many of their Vecchia Guardia successfully managed to slow the sands of time in the past, Inter have now reached a point where those drops of sand are not falling quickly enough. With evolution rather than revolution on the cards, Inter may need to acquire not just some new players in the summer, but some patience too.

Over 30s with contracts expiring in 2012: Samuel 34 [€3m], Chivu 31 [€3.5m], Castellazzi 36 [€1m], Cordoba 35 [€3m]

Over 30s with contracts expiring in 2013: Maicon 30 [€4m], Zanetti 38 [€3m], Forlan 32 [€3.5m]

Over 30s with contracts expiring in 2014: Julio Cesar 32 [€4.5m], Lucio 33 [€3.5m], Stankovic 33 [€3m], Cambiasso 31 [€4m], Milito 32 [€4.5m]

Have your say...
I believe that Inter are almost identical to Chelsea of the Premier League.

Both have been going anywhere but up since Mourinho left and both have way too many players over 30.
They have also brought in flops in Torres and Forlan who are past their peak and won't deliver. They also have terrific young players at their disposal but fail to use them. They have both gone through many managers as well.
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 6:16pm
Yes, that's a correct analysis. We - the INTER fans - perfectly know this. And it's not easy, either. Stankovic is [or at least used to be] a fan favourite, but he should know when he's past it.

I would keep Zanetti, Cambiasso and Julio Cesar. Offer Samuel a lower deal and bring in a proper scout team [like Napoli or Udinese has!] for the youngsters.

on the 23rd March, 2012 at 5:08pm
My Inter team of the future is:


that would be a team in mid table they would be poor
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 4:43pm
Really hope we can get rid of Wesley and the rest. It's so over between us!
The lack of CL could be a blessing, stars will go to clubs competing in it, and we can focus on rebuilding under the radar. Whatever, obviously a major overhaul is in order.
Only one I'd keep is Javier because he IS Inter. He'll never play for another club anyway.
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 2:34pm
@Renzo...Tell me something which world class striker will sign for Inter when they fail to make the Europa League??? World class striker's fall into the vicinity of $5-6m per year with a buy out clause of $30-$35m...Inter's winning days are over, since Falsopoli, Inter have met the true old lady of Italian football and her name is KARMA!
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 2:27pm
Good blog. Accurately reflects what is happening at Inter. Inter is in a situation where they had to remain loyal to the guys who brought them so much success which ended with the unprecented treble. Us fans need to understand that and we have to accept the downturn in results. However, we are right to expect Moratti to rejuvenate the team which he has acknowledged is needed and has started to do. This season we would see more young players come in.
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 2:12pm
My Inter team of the future is:

on the 23rd March, 2012 at 1:29pm
Inter need to continue investing in the future they should introduce Juan, Alvarez, Poli, Faraoni, Ranocchia, Obi, Castaignos and bring back Coutinho. He was amazing under Benitez and has proven his worth in under-20 world cup so why do they not play him. Coutinho and Alvarez could rip any defence to shreds. There's no time for sentiment the club should get rid of Cordoba, Chivu, Lucio and Stankovic definitely. Veterans to stay and give experience are Zanetti, Cambiasso and Julio Cesar.
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 1:26pm
Is this yet another example of the on going problem within all of Italy where there is no trust in the youth product. Inter need to find a coach who will blend the remaining old guard with some good Italian youth who are keen to play for the shirt and not the wage packet.

Fully agree with Renzo, Inter are very much where Milan were but hopefully they have realised sooner...
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 12:19pm
easy!.If only Moratti gave me a job I would save him £!. The problem is loyalty, but players demand such high wages you have to treat them like a business.
Let Samuel, Chiuvu, Catelazzi and Cordoba go..thats 10.5 million in wages. Catelazzi replace with a youth product as Cesar has two more seasons and Viviano will return for a small fee. Cordoba too can be replaced by some youth team memeber. Faith has to be placed in Rannocchia and buy a replacement for Lucio with the money saved!1st year plan
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 12:18pm
“I still have two years left on my contract and I can keep pedalling,” declared Dejan Stankovic. “Everyone knows what I’m like. When I think I can no longer do it, when I feel I can no longer give to Inter everything that they deserve, I'll hold my hands up and thank the President.....Dejan statement is selfish he can no longer give to Inter he is just in denial. He might think he can give but in reality someone at Inter should finish him off and release him
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 11:42am
Inter is going through what Milan went through (and are arguably still in the process of doing) after their winning cycle came to an end in 2007.

It's a problem to balance loyalty to your players with getting rid of deadweights.

They should keep 2 or 3 of the above for some structure (eg Samuel, Zanetti and Milito)and rebuild around alvares, viviano, rannocchia and those types of players..maybe bring in a world class signing too.
on the 23rd March, 2012 at 11:18am

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