Inter faced a tough transfer window this summer, but the Nerazzurri director Beppe Marotta managed to keep the team competitive despite Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi’s sales, writes Richard Hall.
Ever since the Scudetto had been won, it felt like the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hung over Inter and nobody could enjoy the trappings of success. It seemed the Nerazzurri were rich and powerful but as is often with the Milanese, they could no longer enjoy it.
Financial uncertainty saw the coach depart with key members of the team, before long the hashtag #Suningout was trending on social media where only months before they had been exalted. In these turbulent times, one man has embraced the situation even if displeased. Beppe Marotta has not been swayed and instead has conducted his business in such a manner, that Inter may enjoy success with little consequence.
The Roman philosopher, Cicero, once took great pains to make a book from 45 B.C. called, ‘Tuscan Disputations’, as popular as he could because he believed that the ancient moral parable was imperative for everyone to understand. Inter will understand this now more than ever, as they in their own way have experienced a summer worthy of the annuls of history, even if tongue in cheek.
In the book, the tyrannical King, Dionysius II (We will call him Beppe Marotta) runs Syracuse in Sicily (Inter) with an iron fist but with intelligence. With all the wealth and power Inter had in the summer, he is happy but also deeply worried as with such expectation and wealth comes much burden.
Dionysius (Marotta) bemoans this but one of his courtiers, Damocles (Antonio Conte), keeps saying that with all the money and power he has, they should be happy he would like the chance. So, an afterthought, he would be if given the right privileges. “Since this life delights you, do you wish to taste it and make a trial of my good fortune?”
Damocles (Conte) agrees and Dionysius (Marotta) furnishes him with everything he needs. One condition. A sword, held by horsehair will be hung above his head, back and forth, back and forth; it could drop at any time. At first, Damocles enjoys all the wealth and success as he sits in his golden chair. The sword continues to swing and in the end, he cannot handle the pressure and asks to leave. Dionysius says to him “There can be no happiness for one who is under constant apprehensions” and he resumes his seat.
The moral of this story is that Inter’s summer was always going to be fraught with danger. All success is. Perhaps Conte will move from golden chair to golden chair but will not stay long, as he is aware of the danger. Marotta however, is willing to sit in the chair and under pressure: he has done a superb job.
When Antonio Conte left, there was sadness and frustration but also some understanding, as he did not want to work next season under such pressure. When Achraf Hakimi left, it was accepted as Marotta had said Inter needed to clear €80m net and 15% of the wage bill (approximately). When Romelu Lukaku left there was an outcry as surely the sale of Hakimi was done so, perhaps, the club could keep him.
Whilst the club had until 2022 to pay the bridging loan Suning had to take, the interest rates were so high that the sale of Lukaku helped ease this pain. The striker also pushed to return to London, which made it even more difficult for Inter to turn down a €115m offer.
It looked like Inter had an impossible job in the market but Marotta set to work, in came Hakan Calhanoglu (on a free from Milan), Alex Cordaz (from Crotone), Edin Dzeko (Roma), Denzel Dumfries (PSV Eindhoven) and Joaquin Correa (Lazio). Two new forwards and a wing back replacing the missing whilst Calhanoglu potentially replacing Eriksen who, as of today, cannot play in Serie A due to his condition.
Daniele Padelli (Udinese), Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Hakimi (PSG), Lukaku (Chelsea), Andrea Pinamonti ( Empoli), Valentino Lazaro (Benfica), Joao Mario (out of contract), Lucien Agoume (Brest) and Edoardo Vergani (Salernitana) all left the club and all in all the window was deemed as a success out of a bad situation. Even so, the pressure must have been felt, as the new coach (another impressive acquisition) took his team to the field on opening day. A 4-0 win over Genoa and a 3-1 win over Hellas saw Dzeko and Correa get on the score sheet and Inter played in a slightly tweaked and yet exciting way. Bigger games will be the test but so far so good.
Nobody can blame Conte for not wanting to sit on his golden chair at Inter. For him, however, in the end it was not golden anymore but more of a copper bench and the sword had got bigger. He moved on to find a new throne but the moral of the story is the same. Success always brings more pressure and when Suning’s finances went into disarray, repeating these feats became even harder.
That is why, no matter what happens to Inter this campaign, Beppe Marotta must be applauded for his application and resilience under extreme pressure, he has stayed to sit down and ignore the sword.