Ausilio: “Selling Kovacic was painful, but necessary”
The star of this summer’s transfer market for Inter, Chief Sport Officer Piero Ausilio did a long interview with Il Corriere dello Sport, explaining some of the background to the most interesting of the negotiations conducted over the past three months, from the signing of Kondogbia to the last minute purchases. Here is an excerpt of the long interview.
For 18 months you have been responsible for the transfer market of Inter. Is this role what you expected?
“I didn’t expect anything different. The transition to having responsibility for the transfer market was simple: I was already part of the technical direction and I was neither surprised nor unprepared.”
Among the directors, you are the one who has been working for Inter the longest. A pride or a responsibility?
“It is a pride. In this club I have walked a path and I have reached the current position after years of work and experience that has enriched me and given more security.”
How would you rate the transfer market of Inter?
“Ratings are given on the pitch. And not after one, two or three games, but at the end of May. If we by then have at least reached the Champions League, the rating will be positive.”
Which was the most difficult operation to close?
“It would be too easy to talk about Kondogbia, which is why I say Perisic: we went to get a player from a very rich club that didn’t want to sell: his willingness to come to us, our determination and a bit… of strategy allowed us to pull through.”
We begin with Kondogbia and,.. the derby won against Milan.
“We began with the work much earlier and we knew the player from his time at Sevilla. Those three days in Monaco were difficult because there was pressure from the media, but we did it.”
You don’t think that you paid too much for Kondogbia?
“For now, we’re happy we signed him and not have to see him with another shirt… We paid a little extra, but the price was determined by media’s role in the operation. And in a few years the current price will be right or even lower than the value of the French player.”
Why did it take two months to buy Perisic?
“Two months was too much, but it could also be… too few. Even with Perisic we worked with great anticipation as we had set our sights on the player a year before. The important thing is the result and we have Perisic. To buy a player of his value for 16 million is a good result because it’s not easy to buy such good players from Wolfsburg (City paid 75 million for De Bruyne, ed.) We had to wait for money from sales of players.”
How many times did Mancini ask you to get Felipe Melo?
“I was exhausted (laughs), but we have always been convinced that he was right. Melo embodies a number of valuable features like experience, personality and mentality. From the first day one thing about him struck me: his willingness to arrive at Inter. He gave up an enourmous contract to come to Inter. With Galatasaray we have always been clear: the Brazilian interest us, but for the sake of balance we could only get him if a couple of midfielders were sold. After the sales of Shaqiri and Kovacic, the operation for Melo accelerated.”
Is it true that you beat the competition of Juventus for Murillo by moving so early?
“Murillo was another planned operation: we got him in December, but it was not possible to get him during the transfer market in January. After the brilliant Copa America he played he would have cost a lot more.”
When was the idea of bringing Ljajic to Pinetina born?
“Ljajic is a player who we have always liked a lot and, even when he was at Fiorentina, he has always created many difficulties. He is very talented and in Italy he has already proven to be worth a lot. We didn’t think we could get such an important attacker from a direct competitor and it gives us satisfaction that we succeeded.”
With 10 purchases concluded, do you think you have reinforced Inter?
“All the targets set by the coach were accomplished. Beyond the names, I think that each part of the team has been reinforced. Now it will take time to put together all these players, to develop the team. Having 9-10 new names on September 1 doesn’t mean everything is already in place: it takes training, games and work to get good results.”
What is the secret of Mancini that makes him get what he wants from every president?
“Mancini has, on his side, charisma, credibility and international importance.”
Is it easier for a Sporting Director to have a coach like him?
In May, when Mancio said he wanted 9 purchases, what did you think?
“That he was joking… But then we sat down at the table, he made his demands and I realized he was serious.”
And to think that Inter’s transfer market began with the failed operations for Dybala and Yaya Touré…
“I knew that our transfer market would be difficult because we were looking for great names and players of quality and there are few of those. We didn’t get Dybala and Yaya Touré, but we brought home players equally important.”
Will Inter be able to fight for the Scudetto?
“I think Inter should focus on becoming a team. As objective we aim to return to the Champions League, but I don’t see why we have to go for something less. If in February-March we will be fighting for something more than the Champions, we fight for something more.”
Why did you sell Hernanes to Juventus, with whom you didn’t want to do more business after failing to exchange Guarin and Vucinic?
“Because we understood that selling Hernanes to Juve would give us the opportunity to get Melo, Ljajic and Telles”
Marotta said that by selling Hernanes to them you have made a loss in the financial statements.
“I don’t know the financial statements of Juventus as well as Marotta knows ours. I’ll just say that we did our assessments and that the amount of the operation (11 million plus 2 bonus) and the savings from the player’s salary (6 million gross per year) were deemed important by the President and the club.”
How painful was the sale of Kovacic?
“Very, but it was necessary.”
With the departure of the Croatian and Hernanes you reached 85 million in sales.
“The mission that had been given to Fassone and me was to strengthen the team, making it able to fight for the Champions League with major purchases, respecting the parameters set by UEFA.”
How will the story Alvarez-Sunderland end?
“I find it absurd that it has arrived to FIFA to discuss something so simple and obvious. It will be up to FIFA to decide: the contract with Sunderland is very clear and says it all.”