If you’re passing through Milan’s arts district to see Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss at the Pinacoteca and suddenly feel the urge to have brunch, there’s a new spot just around the corner. It launched last week and the vibe is meant to evoke the “magical” and “poetic” atmosphere of South America, right in the heart of Brera. Premier Tripadvisor Comments were mixed but soft openings are notoriously difficult and these are early days for Coraje.
Rather than bringing in Carlo Cracco, Italy’s closest match to Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, its owners could instead turn to Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti in light of the success of his own city restaurants El Gaucho and Botinero, where the steaks are served with “erotic” potatoes (they are crumpled up, for your pleasure) and the wall of football boots worn by the legends of the game leave you speechless while the waiter uncorks a bottle of red from a Mendoza vineyard. Lautaro Martinez and his wife Agustina Gandolfo, the owners, will surely find out. “Coraje”, as they say (Courage).
Opening a business in Milan is, in itself, a statement of intent. After four years there, the couple are rooting themselves more despite all the transfer speculation.
As Inter and Argentina team-mate Joaquin Correa left the launch party, a group of reporters were there to intercept him.
“Is Lauti staying? they wanted to know.
“Come on,” he smiled. “Let’s not talk about football.
Unfortunately for the food critics, the follow-up question wasn’t about the bread, honey, and dulce de leche made to Agustina’s grandmother’s recipe. Alas, it would still be a question of which Inter player was going to be a takeaway.
Martinez doesn’t want to leave Inter.
The club were ready to sell him last summer, agreeing a deal with Tottenham to walk away once Chelsea paid around €115m for strike partner Romelu Lukaku. But nothing changed the 24-year-old’s mind.
“Lautaro extended his contract (in October) to stay at Inter”, his agent Alejandro Camano said this week. “When we sat down to negotiate a new contract, we weren’t thinking about the next transfer, but about the next goal, the next game, the league, the Champions League. It was not an extension with a sale in head; it was to be happy at Inter. And that’s what Lautaro is – for him, playing for Inter is something splendid. There’s no reason to leave.
This has been Inter’s theme of the summer so far.
Each week, one of the stars of the team picks up the newspaper or looks online and reads with horror that it could be them. Are they the designated “cessione eccellente” (big transfer) — the windfall departure to balance the accounts? Basically, the equivalent this year of Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi last summer?
Every week, player reps let their customers know their love for Inter. Wait a minute, it’s Martinez’s people. The next day, it is Alessandro Bastoni’s entourage, shot down by journalists, as they leave the club’s exposed offices on Viale Liberazione.
“The Inter fans are worried about Alessandro’s future? Can you reassure them? The swarm of journalists buzzed.
“Absolutely,” said his agent Tullio Tinti. “Bastoni definitely stays at Inter. He’s an Inter player. He’s happy at Inter. After all, there’s a San Siro tattoo on the defender’s right calf and his appreciation for comments from Tinti is said to show up in the blue and black emojis he posted in response to an Instagram story.
Case closed, one might think. Martinez and Bastoni will be able to brunch at Coraje at will next season.
But with Inter, you never know.
The purpose of statements made on behalf of players is twofold.
In the foreground is the real bond that unites them, the club, the fanbase and the city. Nobody wants ambiguity around him, after seeing how it bothered Lukaku and caused him to open the door of his London apartment to Sky Italia cameras, then confuse more rather than clarify the circumstances and reasons for his departure.
The subtext is also clear: in the event of a sale, make no mistake about it and think about the players invited to leave when it will, in all probability, be the other way around.
It has been a year since Oaktree Capital Management loaned the holding company that controls Inter 292.12 million euros. Interest payments are damn high at 12% – the kind of money that goes on a decent signing – and it all has to be paid back in 2024, which means Inter have to keep making sacrifices.
A net profit of around €60m at the end of this transfer window is the club’s target.
The way general manager Giuseppe Marotta and sporting director Piero Ausilio handled the past summer offers fans a quantum of solace.
The team may have lost coach Antonio Conte (now at Tottenham), Lukaku and Hakimi (at Paris Saint-Germain), but as defending champions they still led the title race until on the last day last month, winning the Coppa Italia for the first time. in 11 years, lifted the domestic Super Cup and progressed in the Champions League (all the way to the round of 16, after a group stage exit in 2020-21), while playing an attractive style of football.
All of Inter’s problems have suddenly felt so far away and yet, for another summer, those problems are back to stay – albeit in a normalized, largely panic-free way.
Unsurprisingly, #SuningOut is trending on Twitter as the prospect of losing a fan favorite every year refuses to fall well under current ownership.
After Martinez and Bastoni, it’s the turn of Milan Skriniar, with a direct negotiation between PSG and Inter, the asking price set at 80 M€. The supporters would regret the sale of the central defender. Slovakia captain Skriniar is one of the faces of Inter’s turnaround from the era of jokes to champions a year ago.
If he was the only cash cow to be milked among their entries, then fine. But it comes to mind from a comment coach Simone Inzaghi made last season about Conte’s succession under the impression that Hakimi would be the only player sold, not Lukaku either.
Ivan Perisic, arguably Inter’s best player in the second half of last season, has already left to join Conte in north London on a free transfer (no profit there then), with Robin Gosens from Atalanta have already found a more than adequate replacement over the winter.
Many plates spin in the air.
Turin’s new Serie A Defender of the Year, Fiorentina’s Gleison Bremer and Nikola Milenkovic have been lined up for the back three amid uncertainty surrounding Skriniar, Bastoni and Federico Dimarco, and with former captain Andrea Ranocchia , 34, at the start after more than a decade (loans to Sampdoria and Hull City aside) at the club.
A year after Edin Dzeko transferred from Roma to San Siro, a former teammate in the capital, the experienced and versatile Henrikh Mkhitaryan now joins him as a free agent to compete with Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella for the midfield spots. ground.
Refreshing for a recruitment strategy seemingly set by established or aging players who have proven themselves in Serie A and mostly out of contract, Empoli’s exciting deep playmaker Kristjan Asllani, 20, has been fielded as an understudy for Marcelo Brozovic, whose rare absences last season were memorable for how much Inter missed him.
Paulo Dybala is close to agreeing a deal to cross the Derby d’Italia/Juventus divide which is no betrayal considering the Old Lady dumped him and he is currently without club.
Then there is Lukaku, and how Inter could make this evoked comeback work.
Something has to give, not only to Chelsea and with the player’s salary, but also the not-so-small deal of Dzeko, Martinez, Correa, Alexis Sanchez and Andrea Pinamonti, who is back from a season on loan at Empoli. It’s a very heavy forward line and it’s hard to imagine Inter adding without subtracting.
Dzeko, now 36 but Inter’s second top scorer in Serie A last season after Martinez with 21 goals and 13, still has a year left on the deal he signed last summer.
Correa’s loan spell at Lazio is made permanent at a significant cost.
Finding someone to shoulder Sanchez’s huge salaries is a bigger challenge, it seems, than identifying a taker for fellow Chilean Arturo Vidal.
Pinamonti will likely fetch Monza money after an underrated 13-goal season with Empoli, although keeping him as an alternative to Dzeko is warranted, especially when he represents better value than the much-hyped Gianluca Scamacca from Sassuolo.
This begs the question: does Lukaku need Inter more than they need him, and how would a second coming play out with the ultras who turned on him in August? What would they do with a rental if it could only be justified by the sale of Martinez? Unless, of course, Dybala’s imminent arrival already foreshadows the Argentinian’s exit.
No club in Italy is talked about as much as Inter. Drama is the D in their DNA. And yet the team should still be very competitive next season.
Andre Onana will arrive from Ajax to challenge Samir Handanovic between the posts and it perhaps protects against what happened in Bologna on April 27, when the error of little-used substitute goalkeeper Ionut Radu represented a big moment for that Inter lose control of their destiny in the title race.
Bremer would be an outstanding defensive substitute, Gosens was the league’s best winger in his last two full seasons with Atalanta, Mkhitaryan stood out as Roma’s player of the year in 2020-21, the Paulo Fonseca’s last campaign as manager, and anyone who joins Dybala and Lukaku, Inter know they are getting the Serie A MVP from 2019-20 or the following season.
The flip side is Gosens turns 28 next month and started five league games last season, Dybala turns 29 in November and has been battling injuries for two years, Mkhitaryan will turn 34 at the start of the new year and joined after playing just 15 minutes of the Europa Conference League final, when he suffered a relapse of the muscle tear that had kept him out since late April.
Profits will be hard to come by with these guys, which means, but for a change of circumstances, Inter will probably find themselves in the same position next summer as they were in this and last; reluctantly considering an “eccellente cessione” from one of their remaining young stars while simultaneously trying to remain competitive enough to be genuine title contenders.
(Top photos: Getty Images)