Friday July 6 2012
Looking out for No 1

Inter have made the decision to replace Julio Cesar with Samir Handanovic, one that Rob Paton examines the necessity of.

Julio Cesar was apparently told in the final few months of 2011-12 by club officials that he would be replaced at Inter this summer. Perhaps looking to undermine his declaration that he doesn’t want to leave by leaking that information less than 24 hours later this week, it has served to somewhat deflect attention from the merits of the move. So too have rumours of the player’s subsequent talks with rivals Milan – sympathy is harder to find for a ‘keeper whose motives can be painted as disingenuous, only looking out for No 1.

Yet, for seven years of service at the club, six-and-a-half of which have been resolutely as its first-choice between the sticks, Cesar’s indignation, whether fully focused and genuine or not, has some resonance. Replacement Samir Handanovic may be equally proven at Serie A level and similarly experienced at international level, but is his purchase a necessary one?

Handanovic arrives with the reputation as a fearsome opponent for strikers in one-on-one situations. He has a fantastic reach, thanks to a larger and equally athletic frame to Cesar’s and has been a point of reliability at Udinese for several seasons. Statistics can also show that where Handanovic has kept a clean sheet in just under 43 per cent of League games played in the last two years – Cesar’s better average rate than that up to the end of 2009-10 dropped significantly in the same two previous seasons to just over 35 per cent. Where Handanovic now has consistency, Cesar appears not to.

Yet, it could be argued that with very different defences in front of them in the past two seasons, Handanovic’s task was a lot easier in Udine than Cesar’s in Milan. Last term, that Inter defence was just five goals short of equalling their all-time worst concession in a single Serie A campaign and that cannot be solely based around Cesar’s capacity or not to save what’s hit at him. Whilst Handanovic may have one particular string to his bow that Cesar does not – penalty saving – it is also worth acknowledging that before the 2011-12 season, one where Handanovic saved two penalties more than Cesar, the duo also had an identical record in facing spot-kicks. They both averaged exactly one saved penalty from every three faced.

In short, statistics with goalkeepers can be misleading and pulled in either direction, because rarely are the situations they find themselves in ever an even playing field. The best time to judge Handanovic’s capacity to fill Cesar’s boots will be six months from now, after the 27-year-old has been given a fair run with the Nerazzurri. It is why other, easier-to-compare elements are being brought up for this particular deal.

Indeed, financially the argument is favourable to the club’s actions this summer. The economics are in fact in line with other activity the club has taken and is continuing to take this summer. Handanovic, just under five years Cesar’s junior, arrives on a considerably lighter contract. Where Cesar was collecting €4.5m a season, his Slovenian replacement will be handed just €2m a year, a saving of 60 per cent.

A glance at changes the club are trying to make across the board at wage level are reflective of a similar measure of austerity. Lucio’s contract rescission saved the club €7m in total wages due, Douglas Maicon’s projected sale could cut another €8m from the next two years. Diego Forlan’s seemingly impending severance will also cash in on €3.5m, whilst another anticipated departure would see Giampaolo Pazzini’s €7.5m over the next three years saved. From the annual wage bill, the club are anticipating a cut of €18m a year, including if goalkeeper Cesar left.

If you take into account Fredy Guarin’s €2.1m annual packet, Rodrigo Palacio’s €2.5m a year, Matias Silvestre’s low €1.4m and Handanovic’s additions to that same wage bill, then technical director Marco Branca is anticipating a drop of €10m a year not including additional costs of tax, which would amount to a real saving of just over 15 per cent from the club’s total, annual salary cost.

Whilst the €34m spend this summer – including just the initial €2m payment for Silvestre – looks like it might eat into those wage-bill savings with minimal return anticipated from cutting loose some of the high earners, it is also worth noting that Silvestre, Palacio – even at 30 – and Handanovic are all younger than the player they are seen to be directly replacing. Guarin, too, is three years younger than January departure Thiago Motta.

Whether or not Cesar deserves to be shown the door at San Siro this summer remains debatable on sporting merit, but impossible to determine until after the decision has been made. However, that the debate over his expense at Inter was had a year ago when Emiliano Viviano was briefly on their books, perhaps indicates that this is one move that was never about anything more than money.

Have your say...
inter should focus allot more in the youth sector, like every team in italy. All of italian youths play in serie b wich doesnt help them very much, we will start to be competitive again when we start managing the youth. For example inter have longo who is a great player and i dont think they are planning to use him.
on the 8th July, 2012 at 10:08pm
i hope not to see inter of 1999 to 2005 ,, too many signings and no big names or quality players ,, all of that names are average players and maybe if they found a chemistry between them in a short time they would earn a champions league spot nothing more :((((((
on the 8th July, 2012 at 4:42am
Inter need more Italian players. Inter should not play in Italy if they cannot support Italian players over average players they keep signing. They should sign/make top international players to support the Italian players. How many players have Inter produced for the national team since the Zenga, Ferri and Bergomi days? Inter are a disgrace to the national team. No inter players played for Italy in Euro 2012...
on the 7th July, 2012 at 6:39pm
Handanovic has 31 zeros maintained for the past two seasons, it is better than all the other goalkeepers in Serie A. Cesar cost 9 million Euros each season, Handanovic 4 with taxes included. Inter are already better now than they were last season, if they only get Cisokho and Paulinho the defensive and offensive be better. Of course, It is hard to see especially Maicon and Cesar to leave But it is a must.

Juventus and Milan are favorites but i think Inter can challenge.
on the 7th July, 2012 at 11:58am
Inter = Car Crash Football Team
on the 7th July, 2012 at 10:05am
Agree with Caleb. Inter mismanagement of Italian youth is a disgrace!
on the 7th July, 2012 at 6:17am
You have no concept of the game of football if you think the inter team that won the champions league was made up of great players. The big difference is that they played for eachother as a team. The current buys will replace the lack luster and lazy outgoing spoilt stars - maicon cesar etc with a sense of passion which has been lacking for the last few seasons. The fact that any Inter player can even consider signing for our biggest rivals shows they were not Inter players. eh lucio
on the 7th July, 2012 at 12:27am
Inter got themselves by far the best goalkeeper in the seriea and maybe in the world (definitely top 3) still it hurts Cesar is treated this way after all he did for this club
on the 6th July, 2012 at 9:00pm
I applaud Inter for signing Handanovic as I beleive hes a fantastic goalkeeper, definetely better than Cesar. Palacio is a pretty decent pick up as well. To be honest though I cant really see them challenging for the Scudetto this season. The team lacks balance and drive. I'm not really convinced by Stramacioni either, but then again who would've thought Conte would lead Juve to an undefeated season.
on the 6th July, 2012 at 8:11pm
Agree with Caleb 100%. Though one could argue that the very foundations of Inter were based upon being able to sign foreign players and that the whole issue of foreign players shouldn't apply to Inter as much as it would to other Serie A clubs.

As long as Inter are signing the right players to replace people like Lucio and Cesar, I'm all for cutting back. It would have been good to sign Veratti for example.
on the 6th July, 2012 at 7:19pm
I understand the board decision to lower the wage bill, but in order to so, I would have given more opportunities to Italian youngsters. I would prefer Viviano than Handanovic; Destro rather than Palacio; Santon rather than Jonathan...
I know they are history, all I want to say is they should stick with more italian!
but no matter what, an Interista will still be an Interista for years to come! FORZA NERAZZURRI!!
on the 6th July, 2012 at 4:41pm
Inter have been on the decline for along time and it seems that the directors are more interested in balancing the books rather than being competitive.
The players that have come in are NO WAY to the standard of the champions league winning team which clearly show their intentions - RIP Inter Milan, it will be a long time before we see you shine again.
on the 6th July, 2012 at 4:07pm
Sure, I'm all for Italian teams getting younger, but why not stick with Italian youngsters?
on the 6th July, 2012 at 3:04pm
Inter has to bring its wage budget into line with playing Europa League football, I understand that. But we keep hearing from the Directors that this will give the youth players a chance to show their worth after their success of last season. However so far Inter have signed a new foreign replacement for the stars being shipped out. Where are the youth players supposed to find the gaps to prove they can play. Also why spend on Handanovic when we had Viviano.
Hopefully it will all work out
on the 6th July, 2012 at 2:19pm
Cesar is a poor goalkeeper. He's lazy. Inter need to get rid of him. Giving him to Milan is giving them a liability. Win-win
on the 6th July, 2012 at 1:26pm
Both Milan's are slashing their wage bills and turning over their teams to get younger. We will have to wait to for the end of the transfer window to find out if this is part of a solid plan, or just an impulse to clean house.

Juventus has picked up 2 such players, Pirlo last season and now Lucio, both bargains relatively speaking.

The real questions are what is the short term effects and how long will it take for the new look Milans to be competitive at the highest levels again?
on the 6th July, 2012 at 11:31am

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