Stickers Swapping: Inter Eyes On Premier League Outcasts

If you ended up here and are older than 25 (well, maybe even if you are younger than that…), chances are you owned a football sticker album at least once as a kid. Transfer market sessions are pretty much like that: A stickers swapping exercise. Players come and go. “Got, got, need.”

The Cult of Calcio’s Stickers Swapping column brings you the best of the “calciomercato” trends and rumors, looking at who’s set to close the next big deal and who has already done it…  

Feature Photo Credit: Twitter @inter_en

Inter’s management appointed Antonio Conte in charge of the team at the beginning of the season hoping to resuscitate their side and bring them back to the top of the table.

Conte didn’t hold back and spent the money given in his first transfer window bringing in several players for hefty fees, the jewel of the crown being Romelu Lukaku who cost them €65M. The out-of-favor striker at Manchester United looked indeed revived under his guidance and repaid the manager’s trust with 14 goals so far in the league. His partnership with Lautaro Martinez has electrified the defenses of the opposition throughout the first half of the season.

Inter are currently sitting second in the Serie A league table – 4 points off leaders Juventus – but are starting to lose tempo after losing the top spot in the last fixtures. Conte’s side is good, his style of management improved their performances by a mile and up until now, they looked like genuine title contenders. However, his playing style also requires much effort from his players and it now may be the time when they are starting to feel the consequences.

The Nerazzurri need some good back-ups for their starting XI. Their management knows that and was among the first to act in this winter transfer market bringing in Ashley Young from Manchester United.

The trend in Manchester seems to be the rejuvenation of the squad with old players being let go to make way for the new generation. Young saw this and despite being the captain of the team, chose to continue his career in a league better suited for experienced players. A versatile player, Ashley Young, now 34, can cover the entire left and right flanks and can bring his contribution both in defense and attack, filling in for injury-prone Kwadwo Asamoah.

Young is not the only Premier League-bound player set to join Inter in the immediate coming days, however: Victor Moses belongs to Chelsea since 2012 but has been loaned out for most this time. The only full season he has ever played for the Blues was his first at Stamford Bridge when Antonio Conte managed the side. One of Conte’s favorite players during his Chelsea days, Moses will surely be more than happy to reunite with his mentor and help Inter push harder into the title race.

Another big name still playing for Conte’s former club but also heavily linked with the Nerazzurri is Olivier Giroud. This looked like a done deal just a few days ago, but the French striker is now also being associated with Aston Villa – which are in desperate need of a back-up striker after the season-ending injury of their main forward Wesley.

Is the Serie A the next stop for 33-year-old Olivier Giroud? The Italian top-flight and Antonio Conte’s court seems like the perfect location for the Frenchman to thrive… (Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Chelsea are keen to let Giroud go as Frank Lampard chose to keep hold of Michy Batshuayi as a substitute for Tammy Abraham. But which move better suits Giroud? Both sides look to sign him as a back-up, but chances are that he would get more playing time with the Villans at least until the return of Wesley.

However, even though he was never managed by Conte (he joined Chelsea just after the Italian left), Giroud seems to favor the move to Milano as he rejected the first offer from Dean Smith’s side. Inter would offer him a chance to continue playing at the highest level and maybe adding some extra silverware to his trophy cabinet.

So what kind of help can Olivier Giroud provide to the Nerazzurri?

Often dubbed as a super-sub, the Frenchman has been highly underrated throughout his career and crowds were always divided about him. But Antonio Conte seems like the perfect manager for him, and Serie A the perfect league.

In the past few years, the Italian top-flight became known as a place where older players are more valued. Strikers tend to excel given that the game is less physical and more tactics-oriented. Conte is one of the game’s best tacticians and Giroud is primarily an intelligent player. Not particularly fast or technically gifted, he compensates with his reliable scoring, high work-rate, strength, and effective positioning.

The French World Champion is also known for being unselfish, an excellent link-up player and great in the air – which makes him the perfect target-man. With a different set of skills from Inter’s starting strikers, he could fill in the puzzle and be there for his side when Romelu Lukaku or Lautaro Martinez need to rest or are out injured.

Could this set of Premier League outcasts be just what Conte needs to snatch up the title? With Young costing €1.5M and Moses+Giroud adding up to an estimate €15M that takes the total up to €16.5M. With the sums being thrown around for players these days, it seems like a gamble worth taking.