Friday January 27 2012
Motta or money

Are Inter selling themselves short by considering offloading Thiago Motta this January? Rob Paton looks at the choice facing the club.

“He is one who sees the first ball, he has geometry. When he is good, the team benefits.” So said Claudio Ranieri recently about his central midfielder Thiago Motta. In Serie A this season, when Inter have had Motta on the pitch, they have won 90 per cent of games, have improved their goal difference at an average rate of +1.5 goals per game and have conceded just three times in his presence. Without Motta on the pitch, Inter have won just 22 per cent of League matches this season, have worsened their goal difference by an average of -0.6 goals per game and have conceded 17 goals.

As the Italian media suggested in late December, Inter win when Motta is playing and as Ranieri was keen to agree, he brings something to the team. In fact, widening the focus, Motta’s record in Serie A during three seasons with Inter stands at 41 wins, seven draws and as many defeats from 55 played. The Nerazzurri’s win percentage from the start of 2009-10 to now with Motta playing is 75 per cent, without him it is a staggering 43 per cent.

Whilst perhaps thought of for his shielding work in front of both Inter and Italy’s defences, it is interesting to note that Motta’s true contribution is in his offensive play for the team. Indeed, where there are four other players in the squad to average more tackles per game this season and 10 who have made more interceptions every 90 minutes, surprisingly no-one comes close to matching the number of passes Motta averages each game, a number he matches with an almost squad-high pass-completion rate. Inter’s style of play runs through the Brazilian-born Italian international and the statistics back it up.

It explains why, even as Inter are reportedly contemplating selling the player to Paris Saint-Germain, his Coach has repeatedly spoken of the desire to keep him with the club. Indeed, PSG’s first offer of €8m was reportedly turned down after Massimo Moratti discussed the issue with Ranieri.

Yet, the anticipation in both France and Italy is that the Ligue 1 leaders will return with a higher bid, closer to the €10m mark, whilst there are also hints of clauses in the transfer meaning that Inter could receive a further €3-5m on top of that. Whilst Ranieri may have one idea, the Nerazzurri’s attitude towards Motta suggests another. It is why the player’s agent Alessandro Canovi has been very clear this week – the Coppa Italia quarter-final defeat to Napoli could be the No 8’s last for the club.

Indeed significantly, PSG’s reported offer of a three-year contract and €2.5m annual net salary sits in sharp contrast to Inter’s non-existent offer of a deal to the player. As Canovi reflected this week, it is not the money – PSG offering less than his current deal – or even the length of the contract that has turned the player’s head.

“I believe Inter have made a mistake, not so much for not renewing his contract, but for the lack of consideration for the player, despite him being one of the most important for the team.”

Soon after his return from injury in December, Motta and Canovi both admitted to the Press of the footballer’s desire to stay at the club, but that in light of no approach on a new contract, they had already by that stage begun to anticipate a summer 2012 transfer. Motta’s current deal expires a year after that, the summer would be the club’s opportunity to cash in on him with enough time to find a replacement.

However, PSG’s interest has seemingly accelerated the process. Should the reports accurately reflect the amount the club could receive for their player, it would actually represent a slight profit on the fee the Milanese originally paid Genoa two-and-a-half years ago. Combined with the fact that Motta breaks the 30-year barrier in late summer and the deal begins to make financial sense.

Even so, as the statistics and Ranieri’s words on the matter clearly show, there is a value beyond the financial that Motta represents for Inter. Talk of younger, more overtly attacking and dynamic footballers targeted as his replacement may help to convince the Inter faithful that this is a sensible transfer. Indeed, one such name the club are reportedly tracking is Real Madrid’s ailing but equally promising Nuri Sahin.

As Il Giornale put it this week, though: “Inter need a player who can dictate the tempo in midfield, who can win, turn and run with the ball, provide tactical and technical support to any teammate in need. In the squad there is no-one else who can do the same. Selling Thiago now can only be a great deal for commercial business, not a great deal for the team.”

Have your say...
i like sanchez but the price being thrown around now ain't funny. Man city have just messed up the market. Think its time we look at our other options.
on the 25th February, 2012 at 11:57am
Just another over rated Brazilian who couldn't make the national squad so he 'became' italian! A good player but nothing worth crying over, cash in invest in the youth of italy not the middle aged or over aged of Brazil and other south American or african countries...
on the 2nd February, 2012 at 12:19am
Have to agree with Adam above.

Let's put it this way, Inter aren't going to win Serie A this season. They're realistically looking at 3rd/4th at best. If there's 8Million to be made out of a 29/30 year old then I say go for it.

Sure he's probably the best in his position at Inter but there are still 4-5 other people that can play there competently.
on the 31st January, 2012 at 11:56am
Motta is a great and important player for inter! all other inter fans who dont agree are blind! im an internisti since i was born and he brings a lotta balance into the team n stats have shown how important he is! before thinkin of selling him we should have a replacement already! we should get rid of Chivu who is useless! every time he plays we always lose! Forza Inter! FOrza Motta! PLease MARCO BRANCA! SELL CHIVU!! NAGATOMO is the man!
on the 31st January, 2012 at 3:43am
thiago motta is quality. he's played extremely well for inter and was part of the reason inter and mourinho won a number of trophies. if moratti and some inter fans have some doubts, then maybe they all should go speak with prandelli and ranieri and ask them why they value motta so much?! motta should and will stay put. why?!...because he is a great player and he makes his teammates around him better as well. inter is by far a better team when thiago motta is on the field. period.
on the 30th January, 2012 at 6:19pm
to be honest in all the years i have watched italian footy inter have always been a bit of a "sheep" club. I don't really rememeber inter buying a player who actually became good at inter. Ronaldo, Cannavaro, Ibra were all players that were big at other clubs and inter just grabbed them. Then of course mourinho who was big at chelsea and inter managed to grab him. With mourinho came sneijder, milito, lucio, eto, basically the players that won inter the treble. Moratti needs a brain.
on the 28th January, 2012 at 5:20pm
Chivu and Motta are the most overrated players in Inter. Get rid of them!!! Pleeeease! Forza Inter.
on the 28th January, 2012 at 10:01am
Good to see him go, if he has no loyalty to his country we can hardly expect any from him for inter. Has everyone forgotten cambiasso? twice the player and an inter legend.
on the 28th January, 2012 at 3:50am
over rated player in my opinion!! easy to replace.
on the 27th January, 2012 at 10:38pm
It's hard to know. When selling to Teams like PSG you always get about twice the fee you'd get from a normal club, so that will tempt Inter. However, he's a good link for defence to attack and will be missed.

Inter could try Sneijder in midfield and this would leave Alvarez in the first team... where he should be.
on the 27th January, 2012 at 10:06pm
Thiago Motta has class that I've never seen before. When he stands on the ball and looks up and passes it's magic, he does it like the big players (Sneijder, Xavi, Thiago Alcatara). I hope he doesn't leave, but if he does, there are only two players in the world that can replace him, either Nuri Sahin or Thiago Alcantara.
on the 27th January, 2012 at 7:09pm
Interesting article Rob. I tend to agree with you. The only thing is that he is extremely injury-prone, and he is getting old. I think if Inter can get Montolivo or Nuri Sahin in his place then it would be a good deal. But of course without a replacement then the team is going to be in trouble.
on the 27th January, 2012 at 5:49pm
Brazil's loss has been Italy's gain. I think you'll find that Motta has also had the same winning effect on La Nazionale as he's had with Inter; a top player who possesses the right balance of aggressive midfield play and quality, Inter would be foolish to let him go!

Maybe Inter want to sell him because he no longer fly's under the Brazilian flag? After all they prefer their overseas players don't they! ;-)
on the 27th January, 2012 at 4:33pm
Motta could have gotten more respect at Milan... a player like him could stay forever in Milan, but not at inter apparently... i'm a juve supporter btw... no bias, just an opinion....
on the 27th January, 2012 at 2:44pm
Great Player very under rated but due to his age, speed and injury problems along with the fee PSG are willing to pay (10-14m) i think Inter should sell and buy a younger more dynamic midfielder with pace and stength, or even invest the Motta fee into a deal for a World Class striker as we have quality young Midfielders who can come into the side like Poli, faraoni and gain experience whilst we still have Cambiasso and Zanetti capable.
on the 27th January, 2012 at 2:14pm
Money at 29/30 years old, sell him........he had few bad injuries in past and im sure his knees would go again soon, thye have enough cover or if not sign a replacement he isnt maradona, I do wonder how he is in the national team? They paid 14M? never was he worth that 8m is fair I would sell him
on the 27th January, 2012 at 12:58pm
Typical Inter, don't know a good thing even if it hit them in the face! Good to see them continue the trend of offloading their best players!!!
on the 27th January, 2012 at 12:45pm

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