Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Rafael Benitez must have felt that he had waved farewell to financial constraints and was about to say hello to earth-shattering amounts of transfer funds when he arrived at Inter.
However, the Spaniard has found that any transfer business over the summer would be heading in the opposite direction – selling Mario Balotelli to Manchester City and keeping Real Madrid at bay by pricing Douglas Maicon out of the market.
The former Liverpool manager claimed he was more than willing to stay out of the financial side of the business and just get on with coaching – leaving president Massimo Moratti and transfer chief Marco Branca to actively deal with the recruitment policy.
Having been stung before by Jose Mourinho’s insistence that the club sign Ricardo Quaresma there was a marked lack of conviction to go the extra euro to land Javier Marscherano and especially Dirk Kuyt.
Benitez has quickly found out he is not that special, but then he has not had the luxury of taking advantage of a major transfer coup that fell into Jose Mourinho’s lap when Barcelona jumped at Zlatan Ibrahimovic and threw in Samuel Eto’o for good measure.
In fact, last summer could not have gone better with Wesley Sneijder arriving from Real Madrid for a pocket’s worth of change.
Deals like that do not come around that often so in one respect Benitez has been slightly unfortunate, although he could have expected more than the modest out-lay on Jonathon Biabiany, who was on a co-ownership deal with Parma so cannot be counted as an outright transfer.
Midfielder Gokhan Inler and Italy striker Giampaolo Pazzini also came into the frame late on in the day but when Udinese and Sampdoria, respectively, refused to play ball Inter backed off.
Moratti has never been so expedient – and for once in a quite a number of years Silvio Belursconi has stolen the limelight across town with the arrival of Ibrahimovic and Robinho.
There is no secret that the owners of the Milanese clubs have little in common and Moratti’s more prosaic approach is at odds with his AC Milan counterpart’s razzmatazz.
That is maybe why the Mourinho partnership worked: Moratti the steady anchor when his coach became caught up in the stormy seas of Italian football.
Now we have two individuals given to mumbling, and Benitez was certainly chewing on his words when the transfer window slammed shut and Inter had locked themselves out of any reinforcements.
A quick glance at the latest available accounts for 2009 shows the club in the red to the tune of €154 million pushing the figure to a reported half a billion Euros over the last three years.
With UEFA threatening clubs that cannot balance their books Moratti may be beginning to feel the offset of an icy blast of austerity.
However, at the same time Benitez is not as if he is looking at a training pitch full of under-achievers and it might be case of the new man stepping up to the standards to his predecessor and keeping to his word that he will just get on with coaching.
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