Asamoah and De Vrij: useful, convincing, fundamental, important and continue the free agent tradition after Cambiasso and Figo
Signing free agent is like sporting directors doing backheel plays: when it succeeds, it automatically generates the oooohhh and aaaaaaahhhhh of admiration. The important thing is not to abuse it because when it does not go right, it will only bring loose balls and disasters.
In the last transfer market window, Inter scored two backheels: useful, convincing, fundamental for the style of play as well as important to get out of difficult situations. Stefan De Vrij and Kwadwo Asamoah form half of Inter defense and amazingly the club spent nothing for them. The former Lazio player is playing next to Milan Skriniar, in a pair of central defenders that already triggers comparisons with the best in Europe. The former Juventino fills the much needed role on the left side. They are two free agent signings that revive a somewhat “lost” tradition: Cambiasso and Figo, but also Pandev, are illustrious predecessors. Vidic and Banega were among the last attempts but they were not successful.
Going back even further to 1996, Aron Winter was signed that summer but he did not repeat the great Lazio years wearing the Inter shirt. After Emre, Okan and Karagounis, the real explosion of free agents came in the summer of 2004: the biggest name was Davids, the most disappointing was Ze Maria. Mihajlovic and Favalli proved to be important but they were overshadowed by Esteban Cambiasso. Il Cuchu came for free and wrote so many pages in the Inter history book. Another notable one was Luis Figo who came from Real Madrid and retired at Inter after winning four Scudetti. In January 2010, after a long legal battle with Lazio, Pandev came for free to win the treble and the Club World Cup (he scored in the final).
The success of signing players for free seems to have ended there because Castellazzi, Andreolli, Campagnaro, Vidic, Banega and Padelli are the most recent names: nobody has really left a mark here. Nemaja and Ever were the biggest flops.
Asamoah and De Vrij, in just two short months, have made it clear that the spell is broken. Both were integrated at full capacity in August and they immediately recorded a consistency of performance higher than expected. All at no cost… or almost. Yes, Inter did not pay anything for their transfer fee but to bring them to the city of Milan, big wages were needed. Asamoah signed until 2021 for €3M per season (only €2M at Juventus) while De Vrij’s contract lasts five years at €3.8M. The Dutch is the fourth highest paid player in the squad and earns double compared to Skriniar who, understandably, is asking for a big increase in his new contract.
These are just small complications of a successful pair of backheel plays. If performances remain, it is money well spent.