Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Transfer deadline day has come and gone and probably the biggest story was the non-transfer of Antonio Cassano.
They say that one person’s misfortune is another person’s gain, and that looked to be the case for the Bari Bawler, who seemed set to up sticks from his coastal retreat and head to the rolling hills of Tuscany.
Fiorentina were absolutely beside themselves that Adrian Mutu was tested positive not once but twice for a banned substance sibutramine, which he claimed had been present in a herbal dietary pill he had been scoffing since his Christmas binge back in Romania.
On the face of it the claims have all the makings of the most far-fetched story to have come out of the Carpathians since the one about the Count with fangs who turned into a bat.
But anyway, as “Slim Shady” Mutu continued to ask the mirror if he looked fat in those purple shorts, Cesare Prandelli was tearing his hair out at how he could get through the rest of the season without his Slim-Fast superstar.
Meanwhile over in Genoa, Cassano was kicking his heels pretending that Manchester City wanted him after Luigi del Neri finally decided it was time to reap revenge for all those nasty things the little prince of mayhem had said about him in the kiss-and-tell exposé "My Life Of Sex And Food."
Mutu can always go one better if he ever feels the need to bare his soul in print – and he may have plenty of time on his hands if he can't throw up a valid reason for his latest discretion.
Fiorentina obviously think there's fat chance of that, considering the way they chased Cassano as the transfer deadline loomed.
But despite their hunger, the move blew up when player and vendor seemed to decide it wasn't to their taste.
The Viola were ready to take Cassano on loan to the end of the season and pay his €1.2 million salary, but doubts started to surface at Samp as soon as the news became public.
Probably something along the lines of: what happens if Cassano starts turning it on, what happens when we start losing again? The fans are going to turn against us once again – much as they had done only a couple of months previously.
Cassano, for his part, knew that Fiorentina would never make the move permanent.
Being the sort who reacts to base instincts, he claimed he was swayed by an outpouring of “love” from his team-mates and a group of like-minded fans.
So that was it: no Champions League, no battling for a top-four spot, no working with Cesare Prandelli – but maybe Cassano was just finding a way to fill up another idle weekend until Del Neri makes his own U-turn.
Over in Milan, Silvio Berlusconi would have liked to have put the brakes on the Rossoneri’s mad dash to land Amantino Mancini, who had been dumped outside the Appiano Gentile training ground for collection after Inter had long given up ever offloading the Brazilian.
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For once one would have to be in agreement with il Cavaliere, who questioned the point of signing another wide player when finishing off moves at one end and keeping them out at the other are more pressing concerns.
Many a player has made the switch between the two Milanese clubs – Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf being two who reignited their careers in doing so – but this current cross-town switch seems more of a wrong turn.
Apart from that, the last few hours saw the usual suspects pack their bags to swap one bench for another, although McDonald Mariga looks another astute piece of business on Inter’s part to add to the Goran Pandev signing at the turn to the year.
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