D.C. United co-owner in talks for Inter Milan takeover

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Indonesian media entrepreneur Erick Thohir, who purchased a majority stake in DC United last season with Jason Levien, is in deep discussions about acquiring a 75% majority in Italian giants Internazionale, according to the Associated Press.

Thohir reportedly met with Inter president Massimo Moriatti today for lunch, and while Moriatti claimed the meeting was “only a chat,” many speculate it was meant to help further the expected deal.

It has been reported for a while that Thohir is interested in purchasing a stake in Inter, although the report that he’s looking for such a large majority is new – it had earlier been speculated that the sale would be for 40% of the club with more added on over time.  The three-quarters stake in the Serie A club is valued around €350 million ($453 million).

After their talk, a rushed Moriatti told Gazzetta dello Sport “Did anything emerge? Absolutely not.”

Thorir also owns a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers in a consortium that includes Levien and actor Will Smith, and he is the current president of the Southeast Asia Basketball Association.  He was the president of the Indonesian Basketball Association up until 2006, and owns two Indonesian basketball teams in the Satria Muda BritAma Jakarta and Indonesia Warriors.

Inter won the treble in the 2009/10 season, but have struggled since, finishing ninth in Serie A last season.

Barcelona bid sure to set European keeper transfer fees all out of whack

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This morning a report in Italian paper Gazetta dello Sport has set the Spanish papers alight with news that Barcelona bid a ridiculous €23 million ($30.7 million) for Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

And it was turned down!!

Apparently Inter president Massimo Moratti said, “Handanovic to Barcelona? No, Handanovic remains with us.”  According to the report, Moratti is holding out for an even more staggering €30 million ($40 million).

The 28-year-old Slovenian kept just nine clean sheets in 35 Serie A matches, which was tied for 14th in the league, and he had 13 goose eggs in 54 over all competitions. His save percentage of 75.4% was 2nd in Serie A of all keepers with at least 10 games.  He gave up a goal every 59 minutes, 19th in Serie A of keepers with at least 10 games.  Those are good, not great, numbers.

It’s hard to get good statistics for goalkeepers, since the numbers often heavily depend on the team’s defense, and Inter’s was horrible this past year (they gave up the 2nd most goals in the entire league). However, it’s still hard to imagine the goalkeeper of a team that allowed that many goals is commanding this kind of bid.

So if that’s the price for Handanovic, then what is the correct market price for a player like Simon Mignolet or Wojciech Szczesny?

The BBC reported just today that Mignolet is set to sign for Liverpool for just £10 million ($15.7 million).  That’s half of the Barcelona bid for Handanovic that was turned down.  According to this article on an Arsenal blog which does a fabulous job of analyzing goalkeeper statistics, Mignolet was one of the best keepers in the Premier League last season on a horrible defensive squad, and probably was the sole reason they stayed up.

If you’re not someone who wants to dissect statistics and metrics, this list by Bloomberg Sports ranked the top 50 players in the world using a massive number of different data points, and Simon Mignolet was the highest ranked goalkeeper of two to make the list.

To compare, Dutch first-choice keeper Maarten Stekelenburg was just purchased by Fulham for £4.7 million ($7.4 million). Stekelenburg was dropped by his former club AS Roma to second-choice in the second half of last season, but many thought that was unfair, and he regained his spot when Roma made a managerial change down the stretch.

Either way you look at it, the bid by Barcelona and Inter’s evaluation of Handanovic is over the top, and the situation sure to set off a chain reaction and could have a major impact on other moves around Europe at the goalkeeper position.

Poor Strama, Allegri: Inter, AC Milan leave coaches in limbo

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Imagine being a soccer fan in Milan right now. In all likelihood, you either support AC Milan or Internazionale – two rivals whose fan bases currently have one thing in common. Each morning supporters wake up and go to the papers wondering if their manager’s face is going to be sprayed across them. In all likelihood, neither Inter’s Andrea Stramaccioni (pictured) nor Milan’s Max Allegri will make it through the summer.

We talked about Allegri on Monday, when hours of confusion led many to believe he’d been let go. Milan denied the story, said Silvio Berlusconi would meet with the coach on Wednesday, and here we are. It’s Thursday in Italy, and so far, Allegri not only maintains in his job but is getting support from the Milan Ultras. Though rumors persist Clarence Seedorf will be lured from Brazil to man the sidelines with Milan, Allegri has survived, even if he seems uncertain how much longer it can last.

At some point, Allegri just has to let it happen. His resume at Milan is strong enough (first, second, third place finishes), he’ll be able to get other jobs. But if her olds on to this ledge for too long, he’ll miss his opportunities. Other jobs will be taken. He should be planning his exit as much as waiting for it.

The situation’s different on the other side of the San Siro. Stramaccioni was pressed into action last year and did a reasonable job righting their ship, but over the course of a full season, he’s produced disastrous results. Inter finished an embarrassing ninth in Serie A, losing seven of their final nine games.

The 37-year-old former Primavera boss has to be replaced. There’s no circumstance in which Inter can accept those results, meaning the question isn’t so much if but when. And by who.

Walter Mazzarri is the most prominent link, with Inter president Massimo Moratti forced to deny Wednesday rumors that the former Napoli coach has already signed with Inter. Roberto Mancini has also been linked, with Morratti refusing to confirm or deny the man who’s already won three scudetti with Inter could return to the San Siro. Where Inter’s job actually officially open, you’d undoubtedly be hearing others linked with the Nerazzurri post.

At this point, it’s a gambler’s game. Who will be gone first: Allegri? Or Stramaccioni? By the time you read this, bookies may already be paying off their bets.