As captains come and go clubs are faced with the imposing question of who to give the covenant arm band to. Do you give it to the longest serving player, the most prolific player, or to someone totally unexpected?
Javier Zanetti has been playing for the club for over 16 years. He was given the arm band during the 1999 season and ever since that day he has held onto the captaincy as if it was one of his own children. Since becoming the captain Javier as gone on to with many honors and achievements with the clubs such as...
Serie A: Five
Champions League: one
Coppa Italia: three
Supercoppa Italiana: four
Last season he achieved the treble with Inter under he guidance of Jose Mourinho, at the time the club felt invincible, they were perhaps the toughest defense in the world, with the likes of Maicon, Samuel, Motta, Cambisso, Cordaba, Chivu, Lucio, and Zanetti as the teams strong hold, it is what separated Inter Milan from the rest of the world.
However all good things must come to an end as we saw Inter Milan suffer the first loss of the season to Athletico Madrid in the Super Cup. Javier Zanetti responded by stating, “We had to loose sometime”. However true this statement may be I feel that it is a sign of bad things to come. Firstly we will take a brief look at the Managerial position.
For me, I personally think that hiring Benitez as Jose's replacement is a massive leap in the wrong direction. How can you hire somebody who brought perhaps one of Europe’s biggest clubs to turmoil in Liverpool?
We have already established that Benitez was pretty much a flop towards the later part of his career at Anfield, however many regard him as an icon and hero as he brought a weakened Liverpool squad both the Champions League and the FA Cup within his first years as a manager.
He then managed to sign key figures such as Torres, Mascherano, Kuyt and others to the club, before departing ways with the club he helped build he was criticized for his involvement with signing players for such high prices (i.e. Aquilani), and for Liverpool’s abysmal season where they finished seventh in the EPL meaning they were out of the Champions League. For me this is not a man who I want to manage my club, especially a club who are the current Kings of Europe.
After local rivals AC Milan lost Captain Paolo Maldini to retirement, there has been much speculation about Zanetti’s future with the club. Currently sitting at 37 years old, the Argentinian will be looking to retire in a year or so. That is the great thing about Serie A, even if you are in your late 30’s or early 40’s you can still play decent football, as the game does not have the pace and brutality of other leagues, especially the EPL. Zanetti is one of those captains who have a calm exterior yet he is tough as nails.
So what next who can replace the Argentine, if any?
Possible Replacements as Captain
For me the most logical person to put as captain has to be the goal keeper, like many clubs including Real Madrid, the goal keeper is seen as the perfect player to be the captain, with the Italian League focusing primarily on defensive then attack, this will allow the goal keeper to be more vocal in approach to the back four. However, I personally think that given whom Benitez is I won’t be surprised to see a younger energetic player to take the club and role to different heights. The man I believe to take the captains arm band after Zanetti is none other then Wesley Sneijder.
I feel the reasoning behind this will be very similar to the reason why Fabregas was given the captaincy at Arsenal.
According to several sources it was mentioned that Wenger only opted to give the young Spaniard the Arm band as a bargaining chip, so he won't go to Barcelona, by giving him the responsibility as a captain it has developed Fabregas as a player and a true leader. At only 23 he already looks like a man who has been leading his team for several yeas. Can you blame him the guy has an exceptional manager in Wenger. This will be an option at inter, with a lot of young guys coming through the ranks it only make sense for Benitez to follow in his former EPL counterpart Wenger and give the captaincy to a more younger and needed player.
I personally feel that, like Steven Gerrard to Liverpool or Del Piero to Juventus, only one man can really captain Azzurri and that is Javier Zanetti.
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