With Inter scrambling for a Coach seven weeks until the 2011-12 season kicks off, the lack of focus currently applied to what direction the club wish to take for next season could see them miss out on promising goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.
The 25-year-old is currently co-owned with Bologna, but where it was thought 12 months ago Viviano would arrive at Inter this summer to challenge Julio Cesar for the No 1 jersey, and just six months ago that he would in fact replace Cesar, the player himself is now considering a potential surprise move to rebuilding Roma – and it could be at Inter's expense.
With no allegiance to the Romans, Viviano's confirmation and encouragement of the Giallorossi's contact is simply a reflection of ambition off the back of an excellent campaign at Bologna, and perhaps a lack of confidence in Inter to further it. Still just 25, Viviano has shown improvement enough in 2010-11 as an ever-present to not only earn an Italy debut, but become a regular member of Cesare Prandelli's squad, and anticipate the chance next season for regular first-team action at a higher level.
More significantly, comparing him to Cesar, Viviano has produced the more consistent football over the season, regularly out-scoring the Brazilian in the pagelle and matching his 3.5 saves a game average, and only falling behind in the save-percentage ratio – 80.5 per cent v 73 per cent – due to Bologna's dismal end to 2010-11. Cesar's performances also included the more memorable mistakes of the two.
Viviano's wish to further claims to Cesar's title as one of the best in the League, however, may not be as an Inter-owned commodity, with the club refusing to pay the €10m asking-price for the remaining 50 per cent of the player, instead offering €5m and incensing Bologna, who two years ago paid €3.5m for their half. In need of the money, the Rossoblu are looking for a greater return on their investment, and are prepared to take it to blind auction on Friday to then retain and sell on Viviano.
Inter's dalliance in the matter marks a priority turnaround at San Siro. Struggling with consecutive injuries through autumn and winter, Cesar's limited game-time meant that going into the winter transfer window he had appeared in just under half of Inter's matches. On a €4.5m annual salary to 2014, the second highest wage at the club, Cesar was thought not only open to the concept of a move – valued at €10m – but deemed expensive by the club. Subsequently, bringing in Viviano – on an 11th of Cesar's wage – six months earlier than planned was considered, first as cover and then as a replacement for 2011-12, in a similar move to defender Andrea Ranocchia's.
However, in light of Cesar's recovery for a consistent run of games and then his declaration to stay at the club two weeks ago, Inter look to have changed tact again, with Viviano signposted as the more costly investment of the two now.
Cesar represents a key component of Inter's strength in recent seasons and the greater assuredness – experience – the team are likely to need next season when other areas of the pitch will likely change. However, it is arguable that in light of the Brazilian's increasing injury rate, that Viviano represents the greater potential between the sticks even inside a couple of years. This was the first season Cesar has failed to reach the 30-game mark in the League for Inter, and those concerns although hard to quantify, were enough in January for the club to seriously consider bringing Viviano in.
However, Viviano, Bologna and Inter now accept that next season he will not be wearing Nerazzurro or Rossoblu, but perhaps Giallorosso. It also remains true that Inter are risking losing him entirely, first through refusing to reach a fair valuation with Bologna edging negotiations to a blind auction, and then in the decision to immediately send him out again, despite promises over the last year to the contrary.
Not only is it questionable, particularly without a Coach to have an input on this, to send him out to strengthen a rival next year, but it could prove much harder to pull him back in – whether six months or three years from now when Cesar is once again deemed too expensive – when Inter want Viviano, but a more experienced, accomplished Viviano may not want Inter.
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.