Hernanes to Inter: Long-Term Fued Between Club and Fans Continues

Colin O'BrienContributor IFebruary 2, 2014

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 02:  Hernanes of FC Inter Milan prior to the Serie A match between Juventus and FC Internazionale Milano at Juventus Arena on February 2, 2014 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Anderson Hernanes de Carvalho Viana Lima is the last player that the Lazio ultras will have wanted to see leaving the club. The 28-year-old Brazilian became something of a cult figure on the blue side of Rome during his spell in the capital.
The player that club president Claudio Lotito brought in from Sao Paolo back in 2010 has consistently been the Aquile's best performer and one of the few squad members who was genuinely top class. 
Hernanes' ability to play comfortably around the midfield and create, inspire and chip in with important goals made him a valuable asset for Lazio, and while Lotito is insisting that Inter's bid of €20 million was good business for the club, it's hard to see how. 
Speaking to Il Tempo in Italy (here in English via goal.com), the president said: 

For a year we showed with strength and conviction that we wanted Hernanes to continue his professional experience with the club. 

We always believed in his qualities as a man and as a player. We never had any doubts in offering him the chance to continue with an important contract, which would have made him a leader.
There was also a buy-out clause included, but after the last attempt with his agent and the player, we couldn't reach a positive conclusion. 

We were forced into a corner by Hernanes' refusal to sign, so simply had to accept Inter's offer to avoid losing him on a free transfer. It was a very painful decision, but inevitable to safeguard the club's finances.

I think €20m for Hernanes is acceptable, as we made a healthy profit on his sale. However, there is still too much power given to players and not enough to the clubs. Agents can behave extremely negatively and that ends up affecting their clients. 

It's a line that the fans aren't buying, but the club was put in an unenviable position by the player. Hernanes rebuked all of Lazio's advances and seems to have made the decision to move some time ago. 

Footage of the midfielder leaving the club's HQ, during which he was clearly emotional, got a lot of attention in Italy and abroad, but it wasn't as cut and dry as it's since been portrayed by the Ultras who protested outside Lotito's home. 

The club is adamant that the transfer window yielded positive results, including the additions of the experienced Helder Postiga to bolster the attack and Chelsea's young midfielder Gael Kakuta on loan. Lotito added: "I don't buy players just to make the fans and media happy, but only to continue a serious, healthy and competitive football project."

To his credit, Hernanes took to Facebook to clarify the situation and back the embattled president (via SkySports.com): 

I would like to explain my tears because I've seen they have been misunderstood, I cried not because the club president was stopping me leaving.

I cried because the negotiation between the two clubs is happening.

I had the possibility to leave Rome, the place I love, the supporters I love. But it has to be me who told the president I would like to leave because I think it's best for me on a professional level.

I want to thank the president for his attempts in trying to convince me to stay until the last minute.

This is my decision.

Having made a name for himself at Lazio, the Brazilian has taken a better offer from a bigger club in the hope of furthering his career. It's hardly treacherous or hard to understand. But if there is "blame" to be dished out, it was the player who chose to leave, and the president who tried to keep him. 

Even so, hundreds of hardcore fans (Italian source) gathered outside Lotito's home, spending hours singing threatening songs dedicated to Lotito inside. All of which gets to the route of the problem: Lazio's Ultras despite the man running their club. 

It might be easier to understand their position had he not saved them from extinction a decade ago. After some heady years at the top of the Italian game, Sergio Cragnotti had brought ruin upon the club, and had it not been for Lotito, Lazio might be playing in the lower leagues or not playing at all. 

Despite saving the club and his continued commitment to turning it into a profitable and successful outfit, however, the president is loathed by most of the club's core support. For his part, he's never shied away from the conflict and in the past claimed that Italian clubs were slaves to the Ultras (Italian source). 

Selling Hernanes fit nicely into the money-grabbing president narrative that a lot of fans like to use when discussing those in charge of modern football, but it couldn't be farther from the truth.

The reality is a common—but far less idealistic—view of modern football: Lotito might own Lazio and pay the bills, but the real power rests with professional players who usually do what's best for themselves. The Brazilian moved to a bigger club where he can be more successful. It would be interesting to see if any of those fans beneath Lotito's window wouldn't do the same thing in their own professional lives.