Ask the vast majority of Inter fans who their last great right-back was and they will all give you the same answer: Maicon Douglas Sisenando, more commonly known across the world as Maicon. Of course, the legendary Javier Zanetti was a more than adequate replacement in the short-term after the Brazilian left San Siro in order to join Manchester City during the summer of 2012. Since then, however, Nerazzurri supporters have been forced to suffer a succession of players who do not even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the UEFA Champions League winner.
Though João Cancelo performed admirably throughout the second half of last season, his subsequent decision to join rivals Juventus has left a bitter taste in the mouths of Beneamata fans. Indeed, upon learning that the former Benfica and Valencia man would not be joining the club on a permanent basis, bringing in a new right-back was always going to be one of sporting director Piero Ausilio’s main priorities this summer. Unsurprisingly, Inter have been linked with a plethora of names, including the likes of Matteo Darmian, Alessandro Florenzi and Davide Zappacosta.
According to the latest reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport, Ausilio is now on the verge of completing a deal to sign Šime Vrsaljko from Atlético Madrid. In order to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, Inter will pay a loan fee of around €5.5 million, before buying the Croatian outright for a further €16.5 million next summer. The ex-Genoa and Sassuolo marauder is, in many respects, the perfect addition to Luciano Spalletti’s side. As the coach alluded to during an interview with Calciomercato.com: “We like Vrsaljko because he is a versatile player and we will play three games a week this season.”
The 26-year-old can consider himself very unlucky not to have received more game time at Los Colchoneros. Unfortunately for him, Juanfran is one of Diego Simeone’s most trusted lieutenants and is only very occasionally rested by the Argentine tactician. That should take nothing away from the fact that the Rijeka native has more than enough quality to walk into most European sides. Signing him on an initial loan deal with a view to spreading costs over a longer period of time represents yet another outstanding piece of business by Ausilio, who has already lured Stefan de Vrij, Kwadwo Asamoah, Radja Nainggolan, Matteo Politano and Lautaro Martínez to San Siro.
Encouragingly for supporters, Vrsaljko’s imminent arrival means that another key position has been strengthened ahead of their team’s long-awaited return to the UEFA Champions League group stage. Given the fact Inter are in Pot 4 and will therefore face at least two extremely difficult away matches, it is vital that the squad is competitive and they are not there simply to make up the numbers. So, not only is Vrsaljko bound to increase the overall quality of the squad, his international experience will be a much welcome gift for Spalletti. He will also act as a remedy for the Nerazzurri’s right-back woes of recent seasons.
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