Saturday February 1 2014
No country for young men

Inter’s transfer strategy risks adding Mateo Kovacic to the list of promising young players they failed, warns Jeremy Lim.

Inter can look back with satisfaction on their business in the transfer market. Only time can tell whether Hernanes and Danilo D’Ambrosio make their mark as intended, but the January reinforcements already lend testimony to the club’s ambitions. Though the fracas surrounding Fredy Guarin’s status as a Nerazzurri player leaves a black mark, Inter can now get down to focusing fully on finishing the campaign with a place in Europe.

It is a journey that looks increasingly likely to estrange the young and fledging players within their ranks, however. Semi-significant summer buy Ishak Belfodil departed for Livorno without a proper sniff at Walter Mazzarri’s first-team. Fellow Amaranto-loanee Ibrahima Mbaye, a champion in the NextGen Series with Inter’s Primavera, was nearly sacrificed in the deal bringing Hernanes to Milan. “Why are Inter not betting on Mbaye?” his agent blasted. “The Nerazzurri risk burning down much of the value of their youth academy. Erick Thohir arrived with different promises, but evidently they cannot be realised under the current Coach.”

The patron had vowed to refurbish the ailing outfit through a youth-centric focus, but the shortcomings of an inherited management that once released a budding Mario Balotelli have undermined plans. Meanwhile, there are growing factions that believe Mazzarri can make more enterprising use of his younger talent, even if Juan Jesus and Saphir Taider have earned regular minutes this term.

Mateo Kovacic’s lack of opportunity to nail down a starring role in the starting XI is the epitome of the crowd’s frustration. The 19-year-old moved to Appiano Gentile one year ago, where his reputation bloomed out of virtual obscurity under former boss Andrea Stramaccioni. Mature performances beyond his age, playing in front of the defence where he displayed an innate understanding of the tactics required, quickly earned him rave reviews.

Comparisons with compatriot Zvonimir Boban inevitably followed. Pre-season saw the Inter faithful enthuse about watching the starlet impact their campaign in his first full season as protagonist. Then things rapidly changed. An early injury and incoming Coach Mazzarri’s tinkering to revamp the prodigious playmaker’s position took their toll. “I think he can really make the difference in the final third,” the trainer said in September. “In the future I think he could play his best football in the hole or out wide in a front three.”

But Ricky Alvarez’s emergence there soon curtailed Mazzarri’s vision and restricted Kovacic to mere cameos from the bench, often while shunted deeper in midfield. Confusion over his role saw the teenager fall into the divide between function and flair, never able to rediscover the consistency from his early months that was once the hallmark of a star in the making.

Hernanes’ arrival as the regarded imagination of the team compounds Kovacic’s struggles. The ex-Lazio player joins at a time when his counterpart has fallen behind the inept Zdravko Kuzmanovic, a new low. Given the further acquisition of Ruben Botta coupled with failure to offload Guarin, space is fast running out for Kovacic to secure a decent shot at affecting Inter’s season in its closing months.

The Croatian’s circumstances are typical of this Inter administration's overall propensity for quick and easy fixes. Even desperate attempts to mine consolation from the club’s negligent regard for talent development would come up blank. It is a vicious cycle of not seeing promising youngsters given the right treatment, some of them with world-class potential, that Inter fans have reluctantly grown accustomed to. A greater rot could set in should Mbaye, Alfred Duncan, Joel Obi, Daniel Bessa or Samuele Longo be pushed out of the exit door next behind Philippe Coutinho and Davide Santon.

If Thohir truly intends to forge a sustainable future from the club’s nurseries, hence keeping in line with Uefa’s Financial Fair Play guidelines, then the plights of Kovacic and co. should shed ample light on what is yet to be addressed. Nurturing the young but talented individuals residing on Inter’s books will see them grow into key cornerstones of the Indonesian’s reign, not painful memories of what might have been.

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Have your say...
Mbaye, Alfred Duncan, Joel Obi, Daniel Bessa, Samuele Longo, Coutinho and Davide Santon. Non of them show any world class talent so far.

So what opportunity Inter should give them !!

If Inter wants to compete in Seria A and Europe then they have to combine youngster with experienced world class players, which should be part of the new strategy. Filling the team with young player will not achieve anything at all.

Kovacic on the other hand have played in 21 Seria A matches and 3 Coppa Italia.
on the 7th February, 2014 at 9:00pm
The irony is both Milan teams are hurting, And the two Turin team's are "Thriving".Like Bob Dylan sang,A time's are a changing!!!....What's next Chievo Verona getting the Scudetto!&%#@!.."Just being sarcastic".
on the 7th February, 2014 at 3:21am
I have not see Inter this season as I refused to watch the Milan derby when I saw the lineups. I watch Roma mostly. But if you are gonna use that excuse for Cambiasso then Busquets too deserves the same consideration as Barcelona are too attacking. You now have Messi come into the midfield and when he loses the ball, he just wanders around, Xavi, Fabregas and Inietsa are not quick enuff to cover so that leaves Busquets to protect back 2 because Alba and Alves are further upfield.
on the 4th February, 2014 at 7:59pm
Busquets doesn't play when the game gets difficult. It's more than than him being defensively weak. The problem with Khedira is that he isn't any good. A quality box-to-box player like Vidal, Isla, Ramires, Inler would all improve Real Madrid. You could use Alonso as a DM, but with guys like that next to him. Or a guy like Mascherano behind him. Even Paul Pogba playing behind but getting to go end to end. Madrid's midfield is characterless.

Good discussion.
on the 4th February, 2014 at 7:12pm
The only reason Cambiasso appears to struggle (tho I don't see how he does) is that the team is poor. The problem with Mazzarri's formation is that Guarin is all over the place, so has to play as an AM instead of his natural position at CM. Alvarez plays farther up, as a result (which is why Milito doesn't get more games, I think). The result is that there is far too much space in the midfield. Cambiasso has to do the work of 3 guys. This is why Inter should have sent Guarin to Juve for Isla.
on the 4th February, 2014 at 7:09pm
Personally I would not play Alonso as a DM but that is what managers do. JM played him in that role & allowed the far less talented Khedira to go forward. Modric under Carlo is the 1 that goes forward and Alonso sits. He has not scored in 3 seasons so that should tell where he plays for RM. The guys I mentioned are not my idea of a DM but that is where their managers play them.Back to Busquets he would fare better with teams of a defensive mode but Barca only wanna attack & it aint easy 2 defend
on the 4th February, 2014 at 2:34pm
@Me I too would not play Busquets against Bayern or teams of that ilk because he is defensively weak and lacks pace but I would still pick him over Cambiasso every time. When was the last time Inter met a top class team, Juventus apart. He struggled badly against a lower team in Spurs, what makes you think he would do anything if he was against top quality teams with great pace? Cambiasso of a few years ago maybe, but surely not this version. I have seen play over 100 times so I do know him.
on the 4th February, 2014 at 2:27pm

Slow kaka? Are you insane? He still has the pace, have u even watched he's game for Milan?? Just cause you just bought a player from 20 mill doesn't mean you have to raise him to the skies. Come back once you've won a game 2014.
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 10:51pm
Alonso plays thru the DM position, but it's fair, based on his role, to consider him more of a CM. But I can respect your opinion there. Mostly, I'm talking of true DM's. Also, Alonso tackles better than Pirlo, but Pirlo is a better defensive player. He defends space, which is more important for a DM.

Matuidi, I think, is a DM...but they play him farther up the field. And he's a box-to-box player. So, for now, I would wait before I decide. But he isn't, right now, better than Cambiasso.
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 5:02pm

Some players will just get too much credit. He knits the team together but he fails to protect the back four. There's a reason I said what I said about the ball going over his head. Everyone fawns over him, yet pretend he's under-appreciated. He doesn't impede the other team and his performances are empty when the other teams actually try to play Barcelona. He is a frontrunner. Worse, he's a front-runner playing DM. He's always great...until Barcelona play real opponents.
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 4:59pm
& Viktor...Slow near useless Kaka instead of Hernanes? Lmao You Milan fans are so in denial. Im not even going to make a comparison between Hernanes & Honda lmao
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 1:31pm
@Malidini's heir I am not just slagging off Milan's transfer policy, it is Serie A in general that is grating. I am reading Rafa wants to bring Lee Cattermole to Napoli, now if that don't beat all. Seriously wtf!!!. As for the theme of this blog I see no point in discussing it as Inter has always been like this since I started watching them under Trapattoni so do not see the need to start moaning about how they do things now.
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 1:21pm
You call Busquets a weak link when he knits the team together. Barca as too offensive with Alba, Alves bombing forward with only Busquets protecting the defence. Modern greats Villa,Gerrard,Scholes,Giggs,Lahm,Zanetti,Puyol,Ronaldinho,RVp, sneildjer,Robben etc. Which Lucas are you talking about? Surely you jest if you call him 1 of the best. This is not the Makelele era where DMs do nothing more than ball winning else Id have named Mascherano. Yeah you are the only one that watches games.
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 1:12pm
@Me the definitions of DM have evolved down they years so saying this person is a deep lying playmaker or whatever is moot. Alonso plays as a DM but has the capability of picking a pass. In that respect he is like Pirlo with the difference being that Alonso makes tackles. Matuidi is a DM, the fact that he has the energy to get into the box should not detract from this. Ur take on Busquets shows ignorance. U want modern greats then Ribery, Messi, CR7, Iniesta, Ozil, Xavi, Xabi,Etoo,Ibra,tbc
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 12:59pm
@ Dennis patience. The time for slagging off Milan's latest awful signings will come soon enough. Normally they do a round up of the January transfers per club.

@ cini I know Inter always love complaining but how have they got away with so many non-EU players over the years. I mean I know they don't like Italians but can they at least stick to this continent. I count 18 non-EU players in the current squad? Isn't there a rule about the number of non-EU players?
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 9:32am
Matuidi isn't really a DM and, more importantly, he is not better.

Alonso is a deep-lying player, not a DM.

And Busquets...based on what? The weak link on a team that hides his shortcomings isn't better than Cambiasso. If Cambiasso wants a lesson in how to position oneself in a spot where he can watch the ball go over his head, then he should call Busquets.

DDR, Lucas, Cambiasso.

But that's based on actually watching games.
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 12:48am

First of all, the team I like most is Milan. Second, you've just admitted to not watching him much. I'm not saying he is; I am saying that it's arguable.

Yaya isn't really a DM and Javi Martinez over Cambiasso is funnier than his transfer price. Schweinsteiger has nothing to do with DM. But maybe people like you bandy around the term too loosely when trying to mark a player's development over time. He's a CM, at most. DM is ridiculous.
on the 3rd February, 2014 at 12:45am
Dennis; Just stop talking. If you want to apply the word only for historic players, then you go ahead. I find little point in saying Baggio and Baresi were great and then sealing your envelope. 
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 11:57pm
Cambiasso the best DM in the world? Granted he is talented and was excellent at 1 time as I have not seen much of him lately but surely that is a gross overstatement. Unless he has morphed into something spectacular then I would rather have DDR,Busquets, Xabi,Toure,Schweinstegger,Javi Martinez,Matuidi to name a few. Obviously you are an Inter fan so no need for me to add to your woes. Cambiasso does read the game very well even if a snail would have given him a race when he was at his peak.
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 11:46pm
@Me when was Essien great? Or are you 1 of those that bandies the word without knowing what it means? Yep, you are. Calling all and sundry great when they are just good. Maradona was great as were Pele, Baggio, R9, Baresi, Maldini, Matthaus, Fachetti etc. Essien at his best was a very good player but never great. If he is great what is Totti, Messi, DP, Platini, Van Basten, Gullit, Rikjaard, Donadoni, Bati, Kaka, Figo, CR7, Zico etc. The less said about your Taarabt comment the better.
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 11:32pm
@ interista wow missed palacio. Completely forgot about him. I'll still take balo any day over him. Personally if I had been an inter fan and had remembered that heat team in the 80s I think I would've given up after calciopoli. I mean it was embarrassing for inter being handed the league title when they'd finished so far behind juve and milan. That for me would've ended my support. My biggest complaint as a milan fan is how crap Galliani is. But for inter it's just desperate stuff.
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 10:27pm
campagnaro rolando jesus

dambrosio guarin hernanes/botta nagatomo

alvarez? kovacic?/hernanes

Argentinas? 1 or 2

somewhere in there or in between
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 9:54pm
Watching Juve game right now...I have said nothing useful but at least it was relative. D ambrosio looks better in right midfield or rather as a right wing back then Johnathan. I have not seen enough but this Botta looks more convincing than Kovacic. Taider looks quite good, and they are not even playing their 2 best players in Guarin and Hernanes. If they had a working striker as Vucinic hits the post they might have the start of something here, must give it some time.
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 9:39pm
Wow, you guys just go at each other and say nothing useful. So far I've read that Essien was never great, that Taarabt isn't talented, that Hernanes wouldn't start over Honda (LOL), I've read that Cambiasso will always have a defensive type next to're talking about arguably the best DM in the world needing someone next to him.

Inter have issues. Their front office stinks they're confused. Milan are all over the place. Only sign free players if they don't need them (try Akinfeev).
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 5:51pm

Dude, Hernanes wouldn't take kaka's or Hondas roll. He be on the bench, so I doubt we wanted him for 20 mills.
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 3:38pm
@ Maldini's Pair it sounds like you don't anything outside of AC Milan so why bother comment on Inter? Are you that envious? Burning somewhat? Lol I know how much you guys wanted Hernanes, or anyone else that cost more then €5m! Lol
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 2:11pm
@ Maldini's Hair, NO Palacio has 10 one I recall was against this joke club that sits on middle table, great winner! HaHaHaHa
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 1:26pm
@ interista balo has 9 goals this season in serie a. Nagatomo is inter's leading scorer with 5. I'll keep balo thank you very much. After all he helped us qualify for the champions league last season. As allegri said a city like milan really should have 2 teams in the champions league!
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 11:51am
Seria B and the Primavera leagues have an abundance of players to be discovered in Italy, lots of talent and gem's to be noticed. And very importantly on the cheap too. The grass ain't always greener on the other side. So Look From Within Inter you'd be surprised!..... Forza Seria. A.
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 4:40am
Get rid of branca, WM, the older players or at least cut their wage. Santon may not be a superstar, but like coutinho he was not treated well. Think about the team we could have with the like if kovacic, santon, balo, coutinho, etc. hind sight is 20/20, but the foundations for a long term project could be much better.
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 3:28am

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