Club rivalries in Italy are as big as ever, but if there is one thing soccer fans (Inter Milan’s and other clubs alike) can all agree on this year, it’s that Ricardo Quaresma has been one of the biggest Serie A disappointments of the current season. The player that marvelled Portuguese Liga Sagres and UEFA Champions League viewers with his trademarked Trivelas turned into a big Nerazzurri flop, leaving us to wonder how a manager of José Mourinho’s caliber judged him to be worth €18.6m + Pelé.
Word Goes to the Prosecution
Primarily, the main fault being attributed to the ex-Porto and Barcelona winger, is that psychologically he reacted very negatively to the San Siro boos. Obviously getting booed is part of a player’s daily bread & butter, but real professionals are usually able to either ignore them or turn those boos into a motivational charge. Of course, it doesn’t help when it’s fans from your own team doing the work.
As José himself pointed out earlier this week, “I am disappointed, as he’s a player I strongly wanted to bring to Milan, but who alas turned to be unable to overcome the criticism directed at him. Without self-confidence everything gets harder.”
Could this be it? Could self-confidence be the only reason of Quaresma’s shortcomings at Appiano Gentile?
Defense’s Rebuttal Witness
In an interview given to ChelseaTV after his arrival, Quaresma lamented at “[not having] many opportunities to show [his] qualities at Inter“. And while that is certainly true, Quaresma’s lack of opportunities however primarily stems from the mediocre performances in the matches he did play.
In a statistical analysis made back in early November, Quaresma had played 472 minutes in 8 matches for Inter, producing only one goal against Catania (for which he has to share the credit with Mascara, who deflected the ball into his own net). Then 3 yellow cards, 21 fouls against him (~3 per game), and 4 shots on target. Ratings-wise, only one 7/10 (in the aforementioned match vs. Catania), two 6/10, and four ratings with 5 or below. Certainly not the types of stats you expect from a €19m-worth player.
Further analysis by Gazzetta ranked Quaresma fairly low even in crossing stats (8th in total number of crosses, 25th in number of playable crosses), which just might tend to suggest that Trivelas and Serie A defenders maybe don’t mix.
Guilty as Charged, Extenuating Circumstances
In Quaresma’s defence, Inter’s playing style and Mourinho’s sometimes demanding tactical directions can partly justify the winger’s adaptation problems. In particular, with Maicon and Maxwell’s (well, especially Maicon) constant moves up the field, Nerazzurri wingers are often asked to cover their respective sides & provide considerable defensive efforts (sometimes all the way back to Julio Cesar’s penalty box). It’s definitely something the player has not been used to in his stints at Sporting, Barcelona, and Porto.
Also, in accordance to José’s defense-confusion tactics the two wingers at Inter have been often asked to switch their positions mid-game, and although Quaresma’s listed as both a left and a right-midfielder, the constant position shifting might have contributed to the player’s lack of lucidity/accuracy.
Whatever the reasons, Quaresma will now be looking for greener pastures at Chelsea, hoping that his 4-month loan stint will give him the opportunity to shine brighter than so far at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. One has to wonder many things however, such as whether if Scolari will be asking him a similar defensive contribution at Chelsea, whether that will adversely affect his playing style, and whether the player will be able to sustain criticism when it arrives.
Ultimately it’s safe to say “boos” speak a pretty universal language, and from what I hear Stamford Bridge fans have got some pretty big lungs.