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On Inter boss Moratti, Santos playmaker Ganso and the Child Catcher

22nd April, 2011

"Of course your little one will be safe with me."

Determined not to be outdone by Chelsea’s swoop for Brazil Under-17 player Lucas Piazón, Inter have gone out and got their own Brazilian teenager, Gabriel Appelt Pires, of Rio-based club Resende. Pires is the fourth capture in a kidnapping spree that has seen another recent Inter recruit, the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, racking up the air miles. Inter’s owner, Massimo Moratti, who spotted the Catcher at work on the final leg of a sightseeing tour of Syldavia, Ruritania and Vulgaria, was immediately smitten with his work ethic. It was the Catcher’s willingness to relocate to the Lombard capital that sealed the deal, however.

“We’d tried the witch from Hansel and Gretel,” explained Moratti from his forbidding mountain castle. “But she insisted on commuting. It became just far too expensive to fly her in every day and so we had to let her go. The search was then on for a misopedic confectioner who was willing to work from Milan, and the Child Catcher fit the bill. He sees the bigger picture. A visionary, really. A man after my own heart.”

The Vulgarian has been busy. In addition to Pires, the three other tots lured into his cage with the promise of sweet and sticky treats are Marko Livaja, Rodrigo Alborno and Luc Castaignos, brought back from Croatia, Paraguay and the Netherlands respectively. Not one to rest on his laurels, the Catcher will be off to France next in the hopes that  Ligue 2 club Le Mans’s central defender Tony Huston is particularly partial to lollies or treacle tarts. The 18-year-old Huston is yet to start a senior match for his club, but has been dubbed the new Lilian Thuram and like all teenagers burdened with the weight of excessive expectation he is guaranteed to prosper.

Another player Inter have been chasing is Santos number 10 Paulo Henrique Ganso. Ganso’s more mature 21 years mean the playmaker is largely immune to the Child Catcher’s wiles, even if he can’t in all honesty deny that his head wouldn’t be turned by the promise of free ice cream. Speculation is now percolating through the Italian press that with Inter’s top youth-nabber neutralised AC Milan may beat their bitter rivals to Ganso’s signature. Santos however are unwilling to sell. The club’s administrators are holding to the belief that the contract they have with the player, which is valid until 2014, should be honoured and have told the two Italian clubs where to go. Moreover, having just booked their place in the next round of the Copa Libertadores, the Brazilians are currently looking to strengthen their squad rather than weaken it, and may bring Breno back from Bayern Munich to join Elano among their ranks of repatriated and overpayed stars. The allure of glory in the Libertadores also means that postmodern thesp Neymar, another transfer target for Europe’s acquisitive footballing nobility, is much more likely to stay and delight crowds with his inspired ability to switch in the blink of an eye between extemporaneous acts of physical ingenuity, comedy and farce such as this one:

Allegations that the mask picked up by Neymar had been thrown to him by the Child Catcher remain unsubstantiated. You are advised to watch this space.

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