Inter Milan: Should the Nerazzurri Keep Centre-Back Andrea Ranocchia?
It is a summer of upheaval at Internazionale, with president Massimo Moratti rolling the dice with yet another manager, Walter Mazzarri.
Granted, Inter had a dreadful season under Andrea Stramaccioni, who failed to satisfy the oil tycoon after his promotion from manager of the club's primavera side.
The 37-year-old was unfortunate at times, with the majority of his strike force spending large spells on the sidelines through injury, but, ultimately, Strama was never going to be the man to lead Inter back to the glory years recently experienced under Jose Mourinho.
Walter Mazzarri arrives after a sensational spell with Napoli, and, as an exponent of the 3-4-3, the 51-year-old will quickly have to decide whether Andrea Ranocchia is to be one of his three centre-backs and predominantly the one that the team's defence is built around.
A clamour for the Azzurri international's signature suggests that he has been in outstanding form, and that any potential sale would be simply down to the financial benefits it would bring, rather than the club looking to find a superior replacement elsewhere.
Ranocchia endured a horrible season though, littered with a collection of comical errors that ultimately cost Inter any hope they might have had of challenging for the Champions League qualification places.
Apt at bringing the ball out from the back and gifted in possession to establish his side's play, Ranocchia is an elegant centre-back who draws comparisons to Alessandro Nesta when confident.
Unlike Nesta though, Ranocchia struggles to maintain concentration throughout the entirety of games, often forcing tackles in order to make amends for his small lapses and ultimately causing greater problems for his side.
Ranocchia is excellent at attacking the ball aerially and is particularly dangerous at corners, both scoring and knocking the ball into dangerous areas. It is this quality at the opposite end of the pitch that makes it puzzling as to how difficult the former Genoa player finds it to head the ball away from his own goal.
Furthermore, Ranocchia can struggle to man-mark an opponent, tending to get too tight and gifting the striker the opportunity to work space. German Denis of Atalanta caused problems in this sense and with plenty of Italian sides using lone strikers, Inter struggled to impose themselves defensively without Ranocchia's ability to nullify the opposition's spearhead in attack.
It could not have helped to be burdened with the responsibility of guiding Juan Jesus through the early stages of his career in Italy, and, with the Brazilian hardly solid at the back, it is conceivable that Ranocchia was often exposed due to the defensive system that Stramaccioni implemented.
There is a raw talent there though, hence the significant interest in his services and in a better system, where Ranocchia can focus on playing the ball out from the back and enjoying the luxury of his team releasing some pressure on the defence by maintaining some semblance of an attack.
With money tight at Inter for the time being, until Moratti is able to bring in further investment, the club is financially limited in the market, which leads me to believe that selling Ranocchia will allow them to strengthen faster this summer.
A fee in the region of €15 million and Hugo Campagnaro already arriving on a free transfer from Napoli, Inter could find an additional centre-back and leave change from the fee they would receive for Ranocchia.
With such fierce competition in Serie A right now, Mazzarri cannot afford to experiment and take chances at the beginning of his tenure, so swapping Ranocchia for a more trusted defender will provide Inter with a better foundation to build a solid start to the season.
If this can be achieved, Inter could kick on and potentially look to be dark horses for third place, but with Ranocchia still finding his feet at a club that has brought in its sixth manager since he arrived at the in 2010, a change could suit everybody at this moment in time.
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