Sam Olsen – Biabiany Interest Indicator Of Inter’s Problem With Continuity
In his regular weekly column Inter fanatic Sam Olsen dives deep into the stories that matter to Inter’s fans looking to keep the spirit of discussion and dispute alive and well on the pages of Sempreinter.com. New Zealander Sam has published several books on military history as well as contributing to a number of sport and news related websites. His love for Inter began in 1997 watching Ronaldo waltz through confused defences in the famous blue and black, and he has enjoyed the roller coaster ride ever since.
It was the summer of 2004. Inter were at the start of a new era under firebrand manager Roberto Mancini. Fans were sceptical the legendary Sampdoria striker had what it took to bring the humbled giants of Italian football back to the winners circle. Away from the limelight, the dramas and the excitement of that season, a season where Inter claimed third spot in the title race but more importantly secured their first domestic trophy since the 1988/89 Scudetto, a 16 year old Frenchman named Jonathan Begora was being snapped up from the amateur French side Le Blanc-Mesnil.
Two and a half years and a name change later 18 year old Jonathan Biabiany limbered up on the hallowed sidelines of the near empty San Siro for his senior debut for Internazionale in the Coppa Italia quarter final second leg against Empoli. The match was as good as secure with Inter up 3-0 on aggregate and with only15 minutes left on the clock, but for the young Frenchman it was a moment of immense satisfaction. The great Luis Figo sauntered to the sideline and clapped his young replacement on the back before he bolted onto the field. A minute later Fabio Grosso put the icing on the cake with a goal. It was a debut to remember.
Biabiany’s name had been whispered around the academy as one to watch, one who could break the trend of Inter’s youth failing to make the transition to the first team and Mancini was particularly keen to see what he could do in the senior team. He was pacey, technically sound and a lethal counter attacker.
With his debut under his belt there were hopes that Biabiany could become a regular squad member for the Nerazzurri but in August 2008 it was decided his development would best be served on loan at Chievo Verona. Despite the high hopes a groin injury left Biabiany unable to play or train for six months. In January, sensing no real opportunities to break into this ‘well-formed’ team, Biabiany requested to leave Chievo without playing a game. He was immediately loaned on to Modena in Serie B and his professional career began in earnest. With the ‘full confidence of the coach’ he flourished appearing in 15 matches at the tail end of the 2007/08 season and scoring his first professional goal in the second last game of the season against Ascoli to secure a 2-1 victory. The following season saw him remain at Modena where he continued his development making 38 appearances for a respectable 8 goals and 8 assists.
Although impressive it was not enough to see him return to his parent club which was knocking on the doorstep of European domination. His form however, had caught the eye of Serie A newcomers Parma who were happy to take him on loan. His 2009/10 season with the Ducali was interrupted by injury but he displayed enough with his six goals and three assists in 29 appearances to convince Parma to take half of his rights from Inter in the deal that took MacDonald Mariga to the Nerazzurri, valuing him at 5 million Euros in total. The deal would prove a good one for Parma as only 4 months later, in June 2010, Inter, with the Champions League trophy still warm from incessant celebrations bought the half they sold to Parma back for 4.2 million euros. It seemed that finally Biabiany would get the chance he had dreamed of way back in 2007.
Inter were euphoric after the famous triple but the departure of Mourinho and arrival of Benetiz had left the club in a somewhat agitated state. Biabiany himself confirmed that many experienced players ‘did not like his methods’, something which ‘benefited the youngsters like me and Coutinho’. After appearing in 14 of the first 21 Serie A matches for Inter, including a memorable 67 minute cameo against Parma where he collected three assists in a 5 minute period, Biabiany came on as a 70th minute substitute for Diego Milito and secured the Club World Cup with a 85th minute goal for Inter. Things seemed to be falling into place nicely for the Frenchman. The goal however, was to prove the high point in Biabiany’s Inter career. Within five days, on the 23rd of December 2011, Benitez was sacked for his poor Serie A record and public disputes with Moratti leaving Biabiany’s future once again up in the air.
Despite reassures from new manager Leonardo who “called me and told me that I was important to him” and that “I had to stay”, Biabiany found himself a pawn in the deal that would bring Giampaolo Pazzini to Inter from Sampdoria. Just over a month after the highlight of his career he was donning the jersey of the Blucerchiati, his Nerazzurri dream seemingly over.
Biabiany would describe his six months at Sampdoria as ‘hell’. He struggled to find his place in a club in turmoil; “I was hurt several times, I was not playing, fans threatened us every day…I went from heaven to hell. It made me grow up but it was not obvious.” Inevitably Sampdoria was relegated and Biabiany found himself being drawn back to Parma who signed him on loan. In the relative tranquillity of the Ducali he rediscovered his form, scoring and assisting on a regular basis. This continuity has caught the eye of several clubs including Everton, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League. The player however, appears likely to snub all these suitors. Despite his French heritage the player considers himself “more Italian than French” now, having married an Italian-Brazilian woman with whom he now has two young girls. He admits that he feels ‘very good in Italy and I intend to stay’. There is also the other love of Biabiany’s life Inter Milan. There is unfinished business for the winger at the club that bought him to his new homeland. Biabiany’s form has also seen Inter return their gaze to their former son with Mazzarri apparently keen to bring him back.
Although a deal is yet to be struck and there are still a number of hurdles to overcome, for Biabiany the opportunity to prove himself at Inter would surely be too good to refuse. For Inter however, the story of Biabiany is synonymous with the lack of continuity and clear idea about which direction the club should be moving in, particularly in regards to how it handles its talented youngsters. Here is a player with a very specific set of characteristics that was deemed not ready for Inter, who was loaned out several times, half sold then bought back for almost 2 million more four months later, only to be sold outright six months after that for a valuation almost one and a half million euros less than 6 months earlier. Now, after all that, Inter have decided that they need a player of his characteristics after all. This uncertainty and clear lack of ‘club playing style’ has seen Inter throw away millions of Euros and a number of quality players as coaches come in, introduce a new structure, style and players, then get sacked leaving the club to start again. Breaking this cycle and bringing continuity will be one of the biggest challenges facing Erik Thohir’s regime over the coming years.
Full Biabiany interview in French click here
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