By Mark Doyle
The greatest transfer trick Inter ever pulled was convincing Barcelona to hand over €43 million and Samuel Eto'o for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2009. However, such player-exchange transfers are never usually so kind to the Nerazzurri.
This, after all, is a club that saw fit to swap Francesco Coco for Clarence Seedorf, and Fabio Cannavaro for Fabian Carini. Inter also gave Roberto Carlos to Real Madrid for Ivan Zamorano - and paid an additional €1m for the privilege. They also rather inexplicably agreed to allow Andrea Pirlo to leave for city rivals AC Milan for just €2.8 million and Andres Guglielminpietro.
Hardly surprising, then, that Interisti reacted with such fury on Monday to the news that their beloved club were poised to take Mirco Vucinic from Juventus in exchange for Fredy Guarin. The Curva Nord Milano promptly issued a statement, describing the proposed transfer "unacceptable" and admitting that they were left utterly "perplexed" as to why the club's directors were willing to weaken "an already limited squad in order to strengthen a rival".
FORWARD | JUVENTUS
It was an understandable reaction. This is supposed to be a new dawn for the Nerazzurri after the dark period ushered in by the mismanagement that followed the 2010 treble success. Admittedly, new owner Erick Thohir warned supporters after acquiring control of the club from Massimo Moratti in the autumn not to expect an influx of expensive signings, but fans could have been forgiven for presuming that their new transfer policy would not involve offloading a talented member of a largely talent-free playing staff to the Italian champions for a 30-year-old striker.
Supporters are likely to be enraged further as, after their club initially seemed to listen to their pleas to pull the plug on the deal, talks are continuing between both parties and the proposed move could yet still go ahead. Monday's soap opera has embarrassed Inter's new leadership.
That Guarin wants out is clear. The reasons for selling him are also fathomable, given the Colombian is a dreadfully erratic performer - and a well-paid one at that. However, why then, pull the plug on a proposed transfer to Chelsea earlier this month? Even if the Blues were not willing to meet the rumoured €17 million asking price, we can surely be certain that they were at least willing to pay more than the current value of Vucinic, who was only worth €15m at his peak.
Yes, the Montenegrin is a technically gifted forward who played a key role in Juve's back-to-back Scudetto successes after joining from Roma in 2011. However, he was the best of an erratic bunch of Bianconeri forwards, as evidenced by his underwhelming return of 18 goals across those two title-winning campaigns.
Indeed, it is worth noting that Vucinic has been restricted to only eight appearances in Serie A following the arrival of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente last summer. Furthermore, much was made of how hard Vucinic worked during pre-season, which merely suggested that this was a player who, assured of his place in Antonio Conte's line-up because of the lack of credible alternatives, had been in a comfort zone during his two previous years in Turin.
A move to Inter might well reinvigorate Vucinic - he certainly wants the move to go through - but for how long? Given his age, he is little more than a very short-term solution for Inter who, we were told, were now concentrating on long-term success following Thohir's takeover.
MIDFIELDER | INTER
From Juve's perspective, the proposed swap deal is a risk - but a calculated one. As already alluded to, Guarin is frustratingly inconsistent and takes the wrong option too many times to be considered an elite midfielder.
However, Conte would be confident of getting the best out of the multi-talented player who would offer the Bianconeri boss the kind of versatility that he craves; the former Porto man is more than capable of operating as a trequartista - unlike, for example, Claudio Marchisio. Guarin is not cup-tied for the Europa League either and would also add greater depth to a midfield that is already unrivalled in Italy.
The one concern for Juve fans, though, must be what this means for their hopes of holding onto Paul Pogba, who has yet to sign a new contract with the club and continues to be linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
If Guarin is being lined up as a replacement for Pogba, it could be argued that there would be no real winner out of this proposed swap deal. However, Pogba's future has yet to be written. For now, it just seems that every way you look at this, Inter are losing out.
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