Inter’s January transfer window is perhaps most comparable to a nearly fatal plane crash.
It started in the usual uneventful manner with muted excitement. Out of the blue, however, it suddenly nosedived into a state of despair and everybody was screaming about the inevitable. When the pilot took control again the plane leveled and the eventual landing was greeted with a mixture of elation and anger.
The Nerazzurri faithful, for the most part, have not enjoyed the transfer windows under the stewardship of Marco Branca. This January was no different as the signing of Danilo D’Ambrosio was appreciated, yet underwhelming. It has to be said, however, that even the harshest Branca critics would not have predicted what was to come.
Fierce rivals Juventus had announced a swap deal—that would include Mirko Vucinic and Fredy Guarin—between themselves and Inter was imminent. Guarin, although heavily criticised by segments of the Inter fanbase, was still seen as a promising talent if used in the correct way.
From the same section Vucinic was seen as not good enough nor young enough to be included in a direct swap. Just as the deal looked to be concluding a surprising intervention took place.
Inter President Erick Thohir suddenly and against all the odds blocked the move and listened to the shouts and pleas coming from the Curva Nord. Within days he had made a blockbuster signing prising Hernanes away from Lazio. On top of all this, Branca, the protagonist, was now gone. It was a Blitzkrieg of change but it still felt like a situation that had been very much salvaged.
Guarin seemed happy to come back to the team and now he had Hernanes with him. Although the two would not combine immediately, they soon did and a connection was instantly made.
Hernanes made the immediate difference and it is no surprise Inter had won just one in 10 matches before his arrival. His fluidity and speed of thought, not to mention his dead-ball expertise, have galvanised the Nerazzurri. Good results against Sassuolo and Fiorentina showed that the midfield of Inter was going to prove key in their assault on the European places.
Guarin had been reborn (to a degree). This was partly due to the work rate and defensive attributes that Hernanes showed and it resonated in the performances of his midfield counterpart. It also allowed Guarin to play with a newfound freedom.
One could almost call this a sharing of responsibility and it allowed Fredy to make runs and play balls that he would not have been able to with the normal squad around him. This situation has also been seen at Arsenal with how Mesut Ozil’s form has been lacklustre after injury prevented Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott from making the runs around him.
Add to this the defensive work Hernanes has helped out with in covering for the unfortunate but inept performances offered by Zdravko Kuzmanovic and the formula seems even more foolproof.
Will Hernanes and Guarin get Inter into Europe this year?
This fledgling partnership was no better assessed than when watching the weekend’s game against Cagliari. Inter missed the intensity and the work rate of Hernanes, and the fallout impacted Guarin and, in turn, the rest of the squad. The combination of the two may not be the answer to all of Inter’s issues—in fact, far from it. It is, however, a fundamental part of what they should structure their squad around.