Biabiany a low-risk and intelligent signing for Inter
In a summer where Inter have been making headlines for high-profile signings, it is perhaps ironic that one of their most astute pieces of business has arrived for free. Ever since manager Roberto Mancini began his tenure at Inter, he has bemoaned the lack of width, but now part of the puzzle has been found. Jonathan Biabiany is a name known to the Inter faithful and his return on a free transfer leaves Inter with much to gain and little to lose. The capture of his signature should be given the credit it deserves.
Inter director general Marco Fassone claimed that the Nerazzurri still had much to do to strengthen the squad before the transfer window eventually closes. Fassone was speaking to Sky Italia from the Nerazzurri's preseason training camp in Brunico when he decided to open up about the club's transfer activity. The Milanese have already recruited Joao Miranda, Martin Montoya, Jeison Murillo and most notably Geoffrey Kondogbia to strengthen their defensive capabilities, but this is not the end of the spending. The director said that the club were only halfway there and that Mancini and the board had now focused their attention on the attacking half of the pitch.
Yet while Inter fans were awaiting news on the progress of Wolfsburg's Ivan Perisic and his potential arrival, an old friend returned under the radar. Biabiany was "brought back home", according to the Inter Channel. With a four-year deal, the 27-year-old had been entrusted with regaining his fitness and given a chance to kickstart his career. The French winger had been out of action for 11 months after medical staff had discovered an irregular heartbeat when he was preparing for a transfer to Inter rivals AC Milan. Now given the all-clear, Biabiany has been given the chance to resume his career at Inter after he was released from bankrupt Parma this year. The Frenchman will certainly feel like he is in familiar surroundings as he was part of the Nerazzurri youth academy way back in 2006. Since then his career has seen him play for Chievo, Modena, Parma and Sampdoria before finally returning to Inter.
Mancini now has a wide man that -- as soon as he is fit -- will give the team everything they have been craving. He has the potential to perhaps even be the signing of the summer for Inter as his skill-set is well-suited to this team. First and foremost, he is fast and comfortable with the ball. He likes to take on opponents and can beat a man. His mindset is not just about getting his head down and taking on is man, however. Biabiany is intelligent and will play short passes if the option is better. He uses his pace at the right time and more importantly for Inter, he can cross a ball well. According to Whoscored.com, Biabiany has averaged 0.7 crosses per game, one key pass per game and has 80.5% passing accuracy over his career. Compare this to Inter target Perisic: The Croatia international has averaged 0.3 crosses per game, 0.8 key passes per game and has a passing accuracy of 77.1%. To put it bluntly, Biabiany is a very capable winger who is not with Inter to make up the numbers. To boot, Perisic would not be a free transfer, either.
Another facet to Biabiany's game is his heading ability. This may come as a surprise as he is only 5'9" (1.75m) tall and a wide man to boot. His strong leap means that he wins more aerial duels than he loses and it is a useful (yet surprising) part of his game. The Frenchman is not without fault, however, and there are aspects of his game that he will need to be sharpened. Finishing is not one of his strong points and this is evident in looking at his statistics. His best tally in a season is only six goals, which he achieved with Parma in 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2013-14. If Biabiany could add goals to his game, he would be a much more potent player altogether.
As the Nerazzurri continue to add to their squad and prepare for the new season, Biabiany may have perhaps arrived under the radar. Maybe it is the familiarity of him at Inter or maybe because he has never really set the world on fire that has dampened the enthusiasm over his arrival. For Mancini however, the French winger will be just the tonic as he will offer the width Inter have been lacking. For a free transfer he is low-risk, but the faith shown in the four-year contract that has been offered shows that the Milanese think that this could be a steal of a signing.
Richard Hall is an Italian football writer contributing to ESPN, The Guardian, Daily Mail, IBWM and Football Italia. Follow him on Twitter @Gentleman_Ultra.