The Madness of Massimo Moratti

I said Rafael Benitez for a joke before I went on holiday!

Football club owners are mad. Everybody knows that. From expensive tropical fish in reception to offering mediocre players almost twice what they had hoped for during negotiations, they’re all barking. Well, those two examples were just Peter Ridsdale, but they are mad, and you know it.

Simon Jordan, for instance, has come out with so much rubbish the council had to send him another wheelie bin, while Davids Gold and Sullivan bought West Ham. West Ham for God sake! And they’re just the English ones.

They may be called Presidents in Europe, but they do the same sort of job, and they’re even madder. They fall asleep during games, fix matches, lock referees in toilets and turn up at nightclubs with guns, and that’s just off the top of my head (so don’t ask for any names, and of course, *allegedly*).

Yet this week all of those things were surpassed. Of all the sniping at each other, literally and figuratively, of all the fraud and all the cigar puffing, one quote outdid them all.

When Internazionale owner and President Massimo Moratti was pressed by the club’s supporters on the issue of a January transfer window signing, he retorted:

“Fine. I promise Messi…”

Ok, he might have been joking. Alright, he probably was. But that hasn’t stopped tongues wagging around the World’s fashion capital (not New York, they’ve got Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez already).

Messi, who has a £218m release clause at Barcelona, has been in Milan signing a lucrative sponsorship deal with Dolce and Gabbana, no less, and has also been spotted dining with Napoli striker and friend Ezequiel Lavezzi. He’s falling in love with the place, they say.

The story has really captured the imagination of La Gazzetta dello Sport, who claim Moratti had first refusal on Messi when he was subject of an alleged bid from Manchester City, due to a strong relationship the club enjoys with the player’s entourage.

Among other claims in support of all this, it is said Messi’s dad has met the Nerazzurri technical director in Barcelona, and has also had breakfast at Moratti’s house. It was not speculated if he was initially there on the promise of a late-night cappuccino.

Even more spurious yet, the paper claims that he may be lured to the country because some of his family are married to Italians. In the Gazzetta’s defence, they need to fill a whole paper with sports news, can you imagine the stuff The Sun would print if they could only talk about football?

That said, they do seem to believe the self-generated hype. Javier Zanetti, the 50-something Inter captain, will be a director by 2013 and, well, there is no ‘and’, actually.

It’s thought that because Zanetti is from Argentina (the very same place Messi was born dontchaknow), that will be enough to seal the deal. I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I was an Inter fan, that’s for sure.

Fair enough, it was a throw-away comment by Moratti, but the clamouring it has created in the press is quite something.

Not since Freddy Shepherd tried to snare Wayne Rooney for Newcastle, supported by Sir Bobby Robson’s claims that the Magpies were ‘the best team in Britain’, has there been such a fatal flaw in transfer logic.

If Inter are after a superstar signing, and one that would rub rivals A.C Milan’s noses in it at the same time, they should focus their attention on Real Madrid’s Kaka. Now there’s a story that, unlike the Brazilian, has legs.

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