Tchau Abu-Dhabi, tchau Pato e tchau 2010By: Matthew Burgess | December 22nd, 2010
A YEAR OF HIGHS AND LOWS ENDS WITH INTER IN TRANSITION.
The Internacional squad arrived back in Rio Grande do Sul on Monday as the club’s lengthy season finally came to an end.
Despite being crowned South American champions in July following the Colorado’s Copa Libertadores triumph, Inter neglected their Campeonato Brasileiro commitments in order to preserve the squad for the FIFA Club World Cup or as commonly referred to in Brazil – the ‘Mundial’.
Arriving in Abu-Dhabi in high spirits, a heavily reported semi-final defeat at the hands of Congolese surprise package TP Mazembe, broke Colorado hearts ending dreams of a second ‘Mundial’ title in four years.
A comprehensive 4-2 win over South Korean club Seongnam in the third-place playoff did went someway to lifting the spirits of the large travelling Colorado contingent, but there is no doubting that the club’s failure to secure a place in the Club World Cup final is deemed as unacceptable.
In the aftermath of the shock defeat to Mazembe, question marks were immediately raised over the futures of midfielders Guiñazu and D’Alessandro (Boca Juniors and River Plate the respective interested parties). Celso Roth, who had earlier in the year steered the side to the Libertadores title, took much of the blame for Inter’s defeat to Mazembe with criticism levelled at his lack of ideas and uninspiring tactical changes.
Inter’s final match of the year also marked the end of Roberto ‘Pato’ Abbondanzieri’s career with the thirty-eight year old Argentine retiring. ‘Pato’ made his final professional appearance as a substitute in the victory against Seongnam, with his Inter teammates presenting him a with a signed number 22 shirt as a departing gift.
Abbondanzieri has not indicated whether he will continue in the game but spoke of his sadness of leaving Inter. “I’ve got to thank everyone at Inter for their companionship. My career as a player has reached its end but I’ll forever take these memories with me”, explained the former Boca Juniors man who won 49 international caps.
Roth to remain for 2011
Upon returning to Brazil, rumours of Celso Roth’s exit from Inter were widespread with the coach’s contract expiring at the end of the month. Dorival Junior, Abel Braga and Dunga were all mentioned as possible replacements, but yesterday, in an unpopular move by the club, news broke that the Roth had controversially agreed a one year extension to his contract with the club.
Changes at Gigante?
With Roth’s future at Inter confirmed, a number of question marks do remain over a number of the current squad as transfer speculation peaks in Brazilian football.
Possible key departures:
D’Alessandro – The playmaker has been in the best form of his career at Inter, playing an instrumental role in the club’s Libertadores title. After agreeing to remain at the club for the Club World Cup, a return to River Plate could prove tempting for D’Ale, whilst Inter already have
Giuliano and Oscar sitting in wait for a regular first team place.
Guiñazu – A tireless warrior in the heart of the Inter side, many were surprised a year ago when the Argentine almost joined São Paulo. Boca Juniors are said to be courting the thirty-two year old.
Alecsandro – Despite a respectable goal scoring record for Inter, the striker’s inconstinency continues to divide and fustraite fans. With Inter lacking pace up front, the Middle-East or Atlético-MG appear to be possible destinations for Alecsandro.
Marcelo Cordeiro – The left back returns to Inter after being loaned to Botafogo for the season. After falling out of favour at Inter, a return to Rio is likely with either Botafogo or Flamengo.
Danny Morais – Also loaned to Botafogo for the season, a product of the Inter ‘base’ (youth team), the centre back’s future remains unresolved upon his return to Porto Alegre.
Andrezinho – Palmeiras rumoured to be interested in the committed attacking midfielder who continues to struggle for a regular place in the Inter side. Can Inter do without such an experienced squad player?
Possible key arrivals:
Léo Moura – Experienced right back, who is rumoured to be close to leaving underachieving Flamengo. Could Léo Moura be a short-term solution to a position which seems to be an eternal problem for Inter? Marcelo Cordeiro could become a part of the negotiations.
Edinho – After captaining Inter to the Sudamericana title in 2007, the quiet holding midfielder had been linked with a return to the Beira-Rio after unsuccessful spells in Italy and Palmeiras – now expected to join Fluminense.
Kleber – With Inter needing to add firepower to their squad, twenty-seven year old Kleber would certainly fit the bill after gaining a reputation as one of the best strikers in the Campeonato Brasileiro. Owned by Dynamo Kiev but played for Palmeiras and Atlético-MG this season.
Luís Fabiano – Long linked with a move from Sevilla, would the experienced striker be prepared to return to Brazil and could Inter finance any possible deal? Inter would face extremely stiff competition for the former São Paulo striker.
So, Inter head into the new year with two main objectives: defending the Copa Libertadores title and challenging for the Campeonato Brasileiro – a title which has alluded the club since 1979.
The club’s transfer strategy over the next month or so will provide a significant bearing on Inter’s ambitions for the year which starts on 15th January with the Campeonato Gaúcho.
As the result of a major sponsorship agreement for the FGF, the 2011 Campeonato Gaúcho will be known as the Gauchão Coca-Cola 2011.
Inter will use its B-team to compete in the tournament to blood fringe squad players and young talent, in what could become another rollercoaster year for O Colorado.