Inter Milan made several notable signings during the January transfer window: Mateo Kovacic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ezequiel Schelotto (Atalanta), Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Stuttgart), Tommaso Rocchi and Juan Pablo Carrizo (Lazio).
This article will profile the aforementioned players and detail what they’ll bring to the Nerazzurri.
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The Lazio Connection
Don't you find it odd that Inter Milan has willingly picked up Lazio rejects? There's a reason why they're not wanted in Rome.
It started with Mauro Zarate, Goran Pandev, Cesar Aparecido, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Marco Ballotta, but now you can add Tommaso Rocchi and Juan Pablo Carrizo.
It's as if the Nerazzurri think every Lazio player is going to be a star after the success of Christian Vieri, Dejan Stankovic and Ruben Sosa.
Tommaso Rocchi, CF, Age: 35 | Signed from Lazio for €400,000
With Rocchi, Inter are paying €1.5 million in wages to an aging forward with no pace, that can't lead a line and hasn't scored 10 league goals in his last four seasons.
Credit to Rocchi, who's stashing the money away, and is probably already pondering where to go next—the Middle East, the MLS or Australia?
In 67 minutes of playing time spread over four Serie A games, Tommaso hasn't completed a single dribble nor has he created a shot for his teammates. He's even failed to convert the two chances he received in front of goals.
The Tommaso Rocchi deal makes the Angelo Palombo one look like the Eto'o one. What a shocking display from Inter.— Jimmy Watson (@CurvaNordSoul) February 3, 2013
Juan Pablo Carrizo, GK, Age: 28 | Signed from Lazio for €250,000
Carrizo came up big last December in a Coppa Italia win over Siena, where he saved penalties from Simone Vergassola and Marcelo Larrondo in the penalty shootout.
Last May, whilst playing for Catania, Carrizo denied Francesco Totti from 12 yards out.
A few months earlier, Carrizo was involved in a stranger than fiction scenario. After Lecce sweated a goal to make it 2-2, he accumulated successive yellow cards in the space of several seconds. This was in the 89th minute, Catania had used up all their subs, and so midfield general Francesco Lodi put on the gloves. Minutes later, David Di Michele, who had missed a penalty, pounced on Lodi's mistake to score the winner in stoppage time for Lecce.
Juan Pablo is one of these keepers, who bizarrely seem more confident saving penalties, than making regulation saves.
With Luca Castellazzi recovering from shoulder surgery, Carrizo could be thrown into the deep-end if Samir Handanović suffers an injury.
You see in the Bundesliga, this signing wouldn't have happened, because management would have thrown caution to the wind and promoted Vid Belec or Raffaele Di Gennaro to the backup role.
Carrizo isn't dependable, meaning you Interisti better pray that Samir stays healthy for the rest of the season.
Signed from Stuttgart for €1 million
Zdravko Kuzmanovic endured a despondent last few months with the German club after brashly saying (from Bild via Inside Futbol): "I’ll be off in the summer."
He has a grandiose view of himself even though he's just a good midfielder—nothing more, nothing less.
Zdravko isn't the most athletic player you'll see nor will he dive into challenges.
Kuzmanovic is a thinking footballer, who moves into space to receive the ball and distributes it efficiently.
He's also a threat from long distance, if you give him time and space, though he may have lost his scoring touch.
If there was a positive from the loss to Siena, it would be the Serbian's performance, completing 106 passes and registering an assist.
His four tackles (which is rare by his standards) gives you an idea how pumped up he was on his Inter Milan debut.
Is it fool's gold?
In February 2011, Raphael Honigstein quoted the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, which accurately sums up Zdravko's career thus far (via The Guardian): "€8 million man Zdravko Kuzmanovic is a pantomime footballer. He's always around but never quite there."
Signed from Atalanta for €3.5 million + 50 percent of Marko Livaja’s rights
You shouldn't take exception to the club giving up half of Livaja's playing rights, even if you think he can do a better job than Tommaso Rocchi, because it will work out if Atalanta develops Marko accordingly.
Inter will simply buy him back if he shows elite potential.
Should Atalanta deem him as German Denis' successor (Nerazzurri management doesn't want him), Inter will earn some cash selling the other 50 percent of his rights to La Dea.
Okay, let's talk about Ezequiel Schelotto...well, that's €3.5 million down the drain.
What does he do? He isn't a strong ball-winner, offers no creativity, isn't a dribbler, doesn't have that x-factor nor will he be an incisive threat from the wings.
If Andrea Stramaccioni persists with a 3-4-1-2, why play Schelotto as a wing-back?
He was lost at sea against Siena, only making 11 passes in 45 minutes. Walter Gargano made more passes (13) and he was subbed on in the 85th minute.
Defensively, Ezequiel was awful.
For Innocent Emeghara's opener, Schelotto was mesmerized by Alessandro Rosina's close-control, and as the diminutive playmaker threaded the ball, Ezequiel stumbled, enabling the ball to reach Matteo Rubin, who played it across the goal for an easy tap-in.
Two minutes after Inter had equalized, Schelotto watched the ball float over him, didn't track Matteo Rubin, who stood up Andrea Ranocchia, before playing a pass to Alessio Sestu.
Schelotto had the chance to block off Alessio, but the Inter man didn't put in a tackle, and Siena's No. 77 finesse shot it over Samir Handanović.
Carlo Muraro speculated that Ezequiel was either playing with an injury or was sick (from Sky Italia via Fedenerazzurra.com): "He did not convince out there versus Siena. It seemed that he was not well. I think it is a problem due to his physical condition."
In fairness to Schelotto, you have to love his never say die attitude—something Alvaro Recoba didn't have.
Ezequiel won't stop running, but sometimes that's not enough, as Jonas Gutierrez found out this season.
I've to confess I'm not Schelotto fan but he is just 23. Though he's average but the desire and determination he has could change things— Eden (@EdenDassidy) January 31, 2013
Signed from Dinamo Zagreb for €11 million
Inter has done a great job. I did not expect it and I was surprised when I heard the news.
Mateo is a great professional and a serious guy. He is very talented. I think he has the potential to become a better player than I was.
Amidst Dinamo's struggles in the UEFA Champions League, he didn't seem phased, as he yelled for the ball, made his passes and accumulated more dribbles than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
It's up to Andrea Stramaccioni to ditch Fredy Guarín as the No. 10 and start Mateo there.
If not, Kovacić could one day be classed with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf as world-class talents the Nerazzurri had, but couldn't fully take advantage of for one reason or another.
Or Kovacic could operate just in front of the defenders.
He was all over the place when I watched him in the Champions League; therefore, it was hard to pinpoint an exact position.
Don't get me wrong, it's not necessarily a negative. Zagreb were mediocre, so it was nice to see a teenager demand the ball, especially in tight spaces, and try to make something happen.
There were occasions where he was dinking his way past two or three opposing players.
Other times, he was deep in his own half, spraying long balls.
He completed 88.1 percent of his passes in the UCL and 92.3 percent on his Inter debut vs. Siena.
So, it's not inconceivable that Mateo could be a regista.
Remember, Pirlo was originally a trequartista, before become one of the greatest deep-lying playmakers ever.
In case you don't know the story, here's Michael Cox explaining it (via Zonal Marking):
Not enough attention is given to Pirlo’s remarkable change in position.
At the turn of the century, he was held up as the next great trequartista, the new Roberto Baggio, and excelled for Italy’s under-21 side playing just behind the forwards, both creating and scoring goals.
Unfortunately, Inter couldn’t find any room for him in their side, and they loaned him out to his first club, Brescia, in order to learn first-hand from Baggio, the master.
Carlo Mazzone, however, completely reinvented Pirlo’s game, and deployed him in front of the back four, sitting and creating from deep—using his incredibly accurate long-range passes to great effect.
Milan saw glimpses of how good he could be in a deep role, and bought him from their city rivals for £12 million.
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