MILAN – FC Internazionale managing director Marco Fassone was a guest on radio programme Deejay Football Club this afternoon. He fielded questions on a whole range of topics, with show hosts Ivan Zazzaroni and Fabio Caressa wasting no time in getting down to the nitty-gritty.
Are Inter going to sign Torres? "That’s not a bad first question! You know there are certain names doing the rounds and the president himself has made no secret of the fact that we’re looking at certain players, but we’re a long way off being able to say who the right man is for us."
So what’s it like having two presidents? And does Moratti only say 30% of things? "You know that Moratti’s influence is far greater than the 30% he owns. He’s not just an honorary president: he’s a president who represents Inter, Interisti and the club’s history. His importance far outweighs any percentage."
Fassone then described the particular moment in their history that Inter currently find themselves in: "I don’t know if we can call it a transition period. On the pitch we’ve reached the end of an incredibly successful cycle which saw Inter rise to the top of the world. From a financial perspective we’re trying to overcome a delicate period that involves refinancing, and we should be on a more stable financial footing within the next few months. I’d say that we’re between the transition and the beginning of a new cycle."
What about Mauro Icardi and his use of social media, described as excessive by some? "We’ve spoken to him about these things all along, through the people who are best suited to talking to 20-year-olds with immense footballing talent like Mauro."
The managing director was also asked about the protest banners seen in recent months, some of which have been aimed at Fassone himself. He joked: "Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get hold of them, they’re still out there somewhere… Have I answered them? We’ve held a few meetings with the fans and I fully understand that when you work as a club official it can be a problem if you’ve spent a previous spell at other clubs, but I think the Inter fans are very good. I know I have to put in 150% compared to what any other official does, but then it all comes down to the figures and the results that you produce."
Another topic discussed was the fact that foreigners have been buying Italian football clubs while a number of Italian owners have snapped up clubs abroad. "I think it’s a reflection of the times," Fassone said. "The level of Italian football has clearly dropped so that means there are good deals to be had in Italy and the clubs here are attractive propositions for foreign investors. It’s even possible to acquire ownership of a big club with smart investment. That’s why Roma and Inter are predominantly in foreign hands now and it’s quite possible we’ll see more foreign ownerships in the future."
Having previously worked alongside Walter Mazzarri at Napoli, there are few better placed than Fassone to talk about the Nerazzurri coach and his working methods. "I know him well, I’ve seen the way he trains and the way he manages the dressing room. Let’s not forget that Inter have had mixed results with I think five different coaches in the dugout. The coach is only responsible up to a certain point. I think Mazzarri is doing an excellent job, not only managing the team but also planning and preparing for next season. I don’t think there can be any doubt about his ability if you look at the results he’s achieved throughout his career.
"Has the change of ownership given him cause to curse his luck this season? A change of ownership – not only for the coach but for the entire club – is probably one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a football club. Imagine what it must have been like for Mazzarri to join a top club at the peak of his career, having slowly worked his way up, and then finding himself in the midst of one of the most complicated seasons in this club’s history. So I expect he probably has cursed his luck at some point this season!
"At the start of the year we handed him two targets. We asked him to get the most he possibly could out of the squad available to him, including the players who had some difficulties last year, and I think he’s succeeded in doing that. Then we asked him to take the team as high as possible. Obviously in the last month or so the president has set the target as qualifying for Europe because it would be a problem for us to go two years without European football considering all the work we’re doing on the financial side too."
That text message Mazzarri received saying ‘Stay calm’, which many people said came from Thohir – did you write it? "No, I certainly didn’t write it! He and the president write to each other after games. Problems with English? No, but besides anything else Mazzarri always has people around him who can translate if need be."
Finally, the discussion turned to European football and the differences between Italy and other countries: "Looking at the teams in the Champions League semi-finals, we can say that one of the good things about the game is that there’s always an underdog in there capable of mixing it with the favourites. It just shows you that the money factor, the turnover you have, might get you there 75% of the time, but there’s always an underdog as well. And being the underdogs we have to alter our basic philosophy compared to the way things were traditionally run within the Italian system. We have to modernise the way we do things a bit."