Serie A: How Massimo Moratti's Sale of Inter Milan Will Impact Walter Mazza Team

Theo Rowley@@LeRowleyContributor IAugust 22, 2013

It is now just over a week until the 84th edition of the Italian Serie A commences and, with football fans everywhere salivating at the thought of the upcoming calcio carnival, there are many background stories which will provide corollary entertainment.

The modern football fan hopes this will mean we see more of the inevitable antics of crazy-haired AC Milan duo Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawya pair whose reputations precede them as they prove as hair-raising off the pitch as they do on it—and less of the ongoing battle with racism.

With Carlos Tevez joining champions Juventus, we will watch on with glee to see how head coach Antonio Conte will handle the Argentine's occasional volatile temperament.

While in Serie B, in his first crack at managing in Italy, Gennaro Gattuso looks like being a jocular, and slightly fearsome, addition as he attempts to steer Palermo back to the top flight at the first time of asking. Being banned for their opening match is an inauspicious start.

But one storyline which has eventually come to fruition in the last few weeks is that Inter Milan owner Massimo Moratti, he who has presided over the club since 1995, in which time they have won five of their 18 league titles, has sold the majority of his stake in the club.

Locked in talks with Indonesian media magnate Erick Thohir, Nadia Carminati of Sky Sports reports that negotiations are ongoing for Moratti to forego 70 percent of his club in exchange for €300 million.

Despite the majority of teams in the English Premier League being owned by foreign investors, this will be a relative first for Serie A. At only 43, and backed by his family's vast wealth, Thohir will intend to be here for the long haul. 

As he already owns or part-owns a number of teams—including NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, Major League Soccer's DC United, as well as several Asian teams—Inter Milan will join Thohir's growing portfolio of outfits which transcend continents, prestige and sport types. Adding the 18-time Italian champions would be a real coup.

This sale, however, has not passed without controversy. The sartorial Ernest Pellegrini, Moratti's predecessor as Inter president, was effusive in his thoughts that this could herald the influx of a wave of foreign investment to the hermetic Italian league.

"The Indonesian is only interested in business," Pellegrini told La Gazzetta dello Sport in a recent interview. "The club must stay Italian."

Moratti, while complimenting his fellow bastion of Inter history, replied he is willing to quash his own Nerazzurri nostalgia "to look to the future,"

Furthermore, it takes a steely heart to overlook Moratti's soul-warming analogy of his "daughter" Inter Milan: "An extraordinarily gifted, beautiful girl. You will do everything you can to make her happy. But there comes a time when you have to send her to college. That’s the only way she’ll learn to stand on her own two feet."

In a recent poll of 1,033 Bleacher Report readers, 47 percent believed that in the battle to finish higher, Inter Milan would conquer deadly neighbours AC Milan. If Thohir can back bids for one or two big name signings, that proportion may just be correct.

When questioning a knock-on effect of such a takeover, however, Inter fans will hope any potential ripples are not on the same cataclysmic scale as nearby Mount Vesuvius, which froze Pompeii in time.

As fans of the English Premier League can attest, as soon as the confetti has been cleared and the raucous cheer dies down which greets a new owner, things do not always go to plan.

Before Manchester City became such a juggernaut, they were owned by Thaksin Shinawatra, the deposed Thai prime minister, who soon lost interest in the Etihad outfit.

Five years after winning the FA Cup, Portsmouth are in the mires of League Two having endured numerous bankruptcies and administration battles. Investors are not always the guardian angels fans hope for.

In the short term though, Inter Milan continue to be linked with big players. Charles Perrin of the Daily Express this week stated that a reunion with Samuel Eto'o could be on the cards. The 32-year old is allegedly attempting to negotiate a release from grief-stricken Anzhi Makhachkala to secure a return to a club where he won six trophies in two seasons.

Following last season's capitulation, when they spluttered to an inexcusable ninth place finish, this summer has been one of change for the Black and Blues.

In has come Walter Mazzarri, a new manager with pioneering ideas who, fresh from steering Napoli to a runners-up spot, has been gifted the money to buy highly-rated talents such as Mauro Icardi, Ishak Belfodil and Saphir Taider.

But we must consider Moratti's motivations for spending such a bounty on a troop of players. Granted, he wants to back his new manager. But is this coupled as a goodbye present to the Nerazzurri faithful while also adding value to his main asset?

Walter Mazzarri's bid to restore pride to the San Siro begins Sunday week at home to a Genoa side who barely beat relegation last season. This should be a fairly routine start to life at one of Italy's most vaunted clubs, but who can forecast for the effect of events off the pitch.


What are your thoughts? Will Inter thrive with this new lease of life? Or is it upsetting one of Italy's most delciately-balanced formulas? Is this the last we have seen of Massimo Moratti? Let me know either in the comments section below or via Twitter: @LeRowley


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