The new owner is set to make changes at the club following his takeover, but anyone expecting him to spend big from day one underestimates his business acumen
By Fabrizio Romano
Finally, Erick Thohir has officially arrived. While some dislike change, already displaying nostalgia for the days of Massimo Moratti’s governance and a sense of fear over what may come under the Indonesian, others cannot wait to see Inter’s new era begin in its fullest effect.
But how will everything come together under the new owner now that the deal has been agreed and the takeover has been confirmed? Thohir is set to oversee a host of changes as he gears the Nerazzurri up for an assault on the top of the game once again.
A NEW BOARD – With Thohir and Moratti, the new board of directors will also include Rosan Roeslani and Thomas W. Shreve, who will be in charge of the financial side of the panel alongside Rinaldo Ghelfi. In addition, other names are set to be announced, with some expected to have already been discussed as part of the final stage of negotiations.
THE PRESIDENT – The real dilemma remains in the identity of the new president. While Thohir is clearly the owner of the club with 70 per cent of the company’s stakeholding, he has handed the decision over the retention of Massimo Moratti as the club figurehead to the incumbent himself. Although Moratti would not be a president in the same sense that he has been, making day-to-day decisions on the club’s direction, he would provide what Thohir sees as a valuable figure of reference who could partner with the owner in making key calls while also keeping Inter very firmly within the visions of their storied past. Moratti is still thinking the situation over at the moment, but whatever his answer his tenure as president will likely come to an end by the summer of 2015. By then, Thohir is hoping to have full control at the club and will have gained the experience necessary to lead the club by himself.
– Aside from discussions over the presidency, Thohir knows he can bring in men he trusts to help take the club forward. These include Jason Levien, who has become his right-hand man in most sporting transactions. There will be a continued Moratti presence even beyond Massimo too, with the current president’s son Angelomario having already struck up a very good relationship with Thohir. Moratti Jr. could be named vice-president, although he is not expected to be considered as an alternative to his father should Massimo turn down the main seat. Still, he will be a key part of the future Inter. Other than these changes, Thohir is not set to make too many alterations. He has faith in Moratti’s previous setup to take the club forward to at least June 2014. Piero Ausilio’s work with the youth sector has been recognised, but Marco Branca’s position could well be under threat when decisions are made next summer. With Leonardo having demonstrated his worth as a sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain, Thohir could look to tempt the ex-Inter boss back to San Siro should he remain without another role when the time comes.
ECONOMIC PLAN – Thomas W. Shreve will come in to keep a close eye over the balance sheet at Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. For the new owner, this aspect is key, wanting his companies to run as efficiently as a Swiss watch economically. As part of this, he has ordered a tapering of some of the club’s agreeements of the Moratti era, which has so far turned up positive results credit-wise. In addition, Thohir will personally cover some of the club’s liabilities to help bring new life to the balance sheet. However, this will not immediately effect the transfer market.
TRANSFERS – What sort of Thohir will we see on the market? Many may dream of Inter becoming spendthirft, but the new model will most certainly not be of the ilk which has seen PSG and Manchester City become modern money giants of the game. Thohir is no Al Thani, nor Sheikh Mansour. In January, the transfer activity is likely to be along the same lines we have witnessed in recent years, with Inter simply looking to get back on track rather than wanting to blast a hole in the market. The new board will look to invest intelligently, settling debts and getting the books balanced before looking too far ahead in the market. Rather than signing a Cristiano Ronaldo or Cesc Fabregas, Inter will be focusing on closing out deals that have been near-misses in the past, such was the case with Tottenham arrival Paulinho. That’s not to say the club don’t have big ambitions on the market, they will just have to wait until a time when they can truly afford it. The most realistic goal for significant transfer investment at this stage appears to be 2016.
THE YOUTH – This is one area which Thohir has been greatly enthusiastic about, studying the quality of the youth setup at the club from very early on in his assault to buy the company. As part of his strategy, Thohir has included a project to further develop the youth, including the loan and co-ownership of young players at sattelite clubs. The new owner particularly likes the idea of a partnership with DC United, but is open to other possibilities. The Indonesian considers this area to be one of Inter’s key strengths already and simply wants to maintain that quality.
THE BRAND – Thohir’s plan, with a mind open to international markets, is to sell the Inter brand all across the world. The Asian market, which is already an important area to Inter, is considered the key aim of the new order, and Thohir’s Indonesian roots can only help. Intertwined with the economic plans, Thohir will entrust his own men to build on the successes of Ernesto Paolillo and Marco Fassone in recent years in expanding the brand.
COACHING STAFF – We conclude with the football itself, and those who will be asked to lead the team forward for the forseeable future. Walter Mazzarri may only have signed a two-year deal last June, but that was largely down to Moratti wanting Thohir to evaluate everything for himself before making a decision on the coaching position for the longer term. Thohir made it clear from early in negotiations though that he would leave Mazzarri to get on with his job wherever possible, and the good start to the season has only reinforced that frame of mind. Right now there is a great degree of confidence in the coach from all involved in the talks regarding the future, suggesting that a continuation of the upward trend in results could see the former Napoli boss handed a new deal before 2015.
The Inter revolution will be an exciting one. With Moratti by his side to teach him the ropes, Thohir looks set to bring the Nerazzurri into the 21st century in a very big way. IndoInter is here.
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