Since the Financial Fair Play (FFP) has entered the mainstream football debates, people are absolutely torn about its usefulness or indeed how fair it is. This is mainly due to poor understanding of the rules. As it’s common when it comes to company finances – which is essentially what football clubs are nowadays – there are a lot of articles regulating operational functions, many grey areas, countless adjustable rules and exceptions.
Earlier in the week a brief introduction into what a bank bond is was published here on SempreInter.com. The following day the first of a three-part series was published, explaining how the FFP generally applies whilst yesterday the second part of the series was published looking at Inter’s finances and how the FFP affects them.
This will be the third and final part of the Financial Fair Play series where it’s time to talk about ways the club could improve their situation even more.
The short answer is, selling players. The long answer is, well, selling players. At this point there’s literally nothing else left for the club to do in the financial department; they took every measure possible. Inter have taken all the right steps, the FFP requirements have been met and all that’s left to boost the finances even more, are transfers.
Why would Inter need to boost the finances right now if the FFP requirements have been met? Because the team is severely lacking in depth and desperately need some extra pieces, especially considering the fact that some of the so-called key players have been severely under-performing. There’s literally a problem in every department besides the goalkeepers.
Before Lisandro Lopez coming in at center back, Inter were left with three players; Vanheusden is essentially out for the season and Miranda is coming back from an injury. Skriniar with Ranocchia were the only eligible centre backs on the team right now.
The full back position is a mess. D’Ambrosio had a good season on average but he’s still not starting material for this team, Dalbert has been a non-factor, Cancelo has shown flashes of his ability but there are no guarantees he’ll be staying full time after his loan ends and Nagatomo is… Nagatomo. You can expect everything and nothing during the course of a single game from him.
The midfield is an even bigger mess. Inter have some good players for sure; Valero has been leading by example as a veteran should, Vecino has been good for me most part and Gagliardini’s contributions, while he certainly had his ups-and-downs, have been mostly positive. But that’s about it. João Mário has been a non-factor and Brozovic’s inconsistency is the stuff of legends. There’s no depth to speak of, every time one of the Borja-Vecino-Gagliardini trio doesn’t start the midfield collapses.
As for the “big guns” up front, what was supposed to be the strength of the team, became the punchline of the joke lately. Again, no depth to speak of. Icardi seems more focused on getting -yet another- raise instead of playing football and is unable to help himself anyway because of his limitations as a footballer, Candreva is having a stellar season and yet somehow manages to still be wasteful, Perisic has been missing since early December, Eder is nothing more than a late-game sub, Karamoh is another player that showed glimpses of his talent but no substance in his game and Pinamonti hasn’t featured at all. Lose one of the, already under-performing, starting trio and there’s nobody there to fill the gap effectively.
As you can see the team could do with some reinforcements, that’s as clear as day. This is the number one issue at the moment but unfortunately the coffers are empty. There’s only one way to add some fresh faces in the severely depleted squad and as ironic as it sounds, it’s getting rid of old faces.
We’re not looking at the above with a critical eye because of the on-field performance of the team. That situation is directly linked with the club’s efforts to get rid of the FFP restrictions. Inter’s main target this season is to qualify for the Champions League. Just participating in the group stage guarantees the club a prize of €12.7 million with bonuses of €1.5 million per win and €500,000 per draw. Inter can potentially win over €20m just in the group stage, without taking into account the extra income from TV rights, marketing etc. Getting there wouldn’t be just a sweet bonus, it would take the club above the allowed deficit.
This is exactly why Inter need more players. Missing out on Champions League football won’t be the end of the world, but the club absolutely wants to avoid that possibility. As it stands the club is seriously hampering their chances due to the non-existent team depth. If things remain the way they are the squad will need more than a fair amount of luck to achieve the set targets this season. You can’t base a club’s success solely in the starting XI. But boosting the current squad will require money and this is were transfers come in.
Unfortunately the club doesn’t have many valuable assets to utilize. The golden goose at this moment is clearly Icardi. The team can accept massive offers for him and make some serious money, but then again he’ll have to also be replaced by someone of comparable goalscoring ability and that won’t come cheap. So that’s off the table, at least for now. The sad reality is that Inter only have three marketable assets. Marcelo Brozovic, Joao Mario and Gabriel Barbosa.
That sounds good on paper, considering their supposed market value and the fees paid to get them but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The players managed to drive their value down with their performances. João Mário had a market value of €35 million when he joined; today it’s at €25 million. Gabriel Barbosa had a market value of €20 million; today it’s at just €11 million. The only constant is Marcelo Brozovic; he never managed to go over €21 million and his current market value is at €19 million.
As everybody knows Gabriel Barbosa went out on a loan in an effort to give him the playing time he needed or at least recuperate his transfer money with an optional future fee. Barbosa managed to ruin that too with his performances and now the club is stuck with him; good luck finding someone to fork-over more than €20 million for him.
João Mário never justified his transfer fee. He is horribly inconsistent with no signs of improvement. In his case there’s no chance to get back the money Inter gave away for him. Our only -extremely remote- chance is a club from the ultra-rich EPL taking a gamble on him. €30 million at best? We’ll take it.
And of course Marcelo Brozovic, our perennial next-year-will-be-better player. Let’s face it people, he is what he is. Scoring three goals against Benevento and Verona doesn’t compensate for his failure to substantially help the team in every other category. If someone gave over €20 million for him the board should throw a party for the whole black-and-blue side of Milano.
If by some miracle the club manages to get rid of these three players Inter have a good chance of ending up with about €40 million to €60 million in the coffers to use for reinforcements.
That’s only a part of the logic behind player movement. The second part is wages.
Inter has a long and proud history of handing out ridiculous contracts. The current wage budget is around €75 million and are already using up about €74 million without even having a full squad. This isn’t so much about annual wages, the club are actually doing a good job of keeping a good average on that area. It’s more about the ridiculous bonuses players received in their contracts. Icardi for example has a ridiculous appearance fee of €25.000. Each time he plays a game he gets €25.000. He also gets €24.000 for every goal he scores. Perisic gets €10.000 for every international cap. Brozovic gets €3.000 every time he is an unused substitute. Miranda gets €20.000 for every clean sheet. And this isn’t just a high profile player thing. Nearly every single player has similar bonuses in his contract.
These numbers may not look big but on the bigger picture they are; bonuses accumulate. A few thousand here, a few thousand there and all of a sudden the club has to pay €2-3 extra million in contract bonuses.
This is exactly why the club needs to move players as soon as possible: boost the transfer budget in an effort to reinforce the team and reduce the wage budget.
Everything else has been taken care of. The club is on the right path, Inter comply with the FFP regulations, Suning is on the verge of making the club profitable again and all that’s left is assembling not a competitive starting XI, but a squad that will keep pushing for results without missing a beat despite injuries, bans or individual loss of form.