The message is plain and simple – unless Inter purchase a top-class attacking midfielder before the end of the summer transfer window next week they can kiss goodbye to their hopes of winning the Champions League.
With just six days left, of which the last two will be complicated by international preparations, it is fair to say that the chances of signing someone who will make the difference are looking slim.
Quite why Inter have waited so long to try and capture the one player that they really needed is a mystery. Their priority this summer should always have been a trequartista. Thiago Motta, Diego Milito, Lucio, and Samuel Eto’o are all excellent performers who will do well for the club, but they don’t solve Inter’s problem of the last three seasons.
The situation the Nerazzurri find themselves in at this late hour is that most clubs are unwilling to sell their star players because they don’t have enough time to locate a replacement. Thus, the Italian champions are forced into a panic-buy.
Real Madrid’s Wesley Sneijder has seemingly rejected a move to San Siro, a decision that may not harm Inter all that much. While the Dutchman is technically and creatively good, he doesn’t possess the qualities in abundance that are really required. Inter need a star individual who can link the midfield to the attack, carry the ball with his dribbling, inject some pace, unpredictability and explosiveness into the game, and who possesses the guile to break down defensive brick walls a lot tougher than the one Bari erected last Sunday.
Sneijder is not that man. The perfect fit for Inter would be Franck Ribery or David Silva – two players who would have been realistic possibilities for most of the summer but are now impossibilities. The transfer chiefs have dropped the ball.
The fact that Roma’s Julio Baptista is now in talks with Inter sums up Jose Mourinho’s desperation. Baptista has been one of the most over-rated and inconsistent attacking midfielders to bless the European game over the past few years. The Brazilian has been horrible ever since he left Sevilla in 2005, and has failed at each of the three big clubs he has represented – Real Madrid, Arsenal and Roma. Why should this change at Inter?
If the Giallorossi manage to offload him for the mooted €9 million, it will be the second time in as many summers that they have sold Inter a duff Brazilian. And one who single-handedly cost Roma their Champions League second round tie against Arsenal last season when he air-kicked an open goal from six yards out with 10 minutes to go. Inter want to win the Champions League? Well, they will be signing the right man to get themselves knocked out.
Mourinho refuses to buy a trequartista who doesn’t press opponents and needs to be the central cog, which rules out Juan Roman Riquelme and the man every Inter fan dreams of – Antonio Cassano. Mourinho’s reasoning for snubbing Cassano is certainly flawed. Inter’s three-man centre midfield is so strong and defensive that there is more than enough protection to almost allow Cassano a free role. With Eto’o and Milito’s intelligent movement ahead of him, Talentino could break the assists record in Italy.
Baptista is not a playmaker, his best attributes are bulk and power for which he needs to be in tip-top physical shape - hence his nickname 'The Beast'. He doesn't have the intelligence or the finesse to open up a tight defence. Most of the time Baptista's second touch is a missed tackle.
Julio Baptista or Antonio Cassano? You decide.
What are your views on this topic? Is Julio Baptista a bad signing for Inter? What does this mean for their Champions League chances? Is it too late for Inter to buy a top-class trequartista? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…
Carlo Garganese, Goal.com