Uruguay forward Diego Forlan has joined Brazilian side Internacional after his Inter Milan contract was terminated yesterday. Forlan had moved to Italy from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
Something of a flop at Manchester United – his first European club – having cost the Red Devils over £500,000 per league goal at £6.9 million, Forlan has rebuilt his career in recent years, enjoying much more prolific spells at Villarreal and Atletico Madrid after leaving Old Trafford in 2004, as well as winning the Golden Ball at the 2010 World Cup.
Having managed a much-improved strike-rate of around a goal every other league game at each of his Spanish clubs, it was only a matter of time before a European giant such as Inter came calling. Unfortunately, after signing at the San Siro in August 2011, Forlan struggled to emulate this record. Just two league goals all season led to the club tearing up the last year of the Uruguayan’s contract, making him eligible for a free transfer.
Signed as a replacement for Inter legend and Anzi Makhachkala-bound Samuel Eto’o – who had scored 37 times in all competitions in 2010-11 – Forlan was always likely to feel the pressure at a historically expectant club. Despite scoring on his debut in September against Palermo, Diego would find the net just once more in Serie A, having to wait until March for his next – and last – league goal for Inter, against Catania.
A move to Porto Alegre-based Internacional, who finished fifth in Brazil’s top flight last season, represents a chance to move back to his home continent for Forlan. His illustrious career has come the full circle: Forlan’s first club was Argentine giants Independiente; Brazil’s Internacional could well be his last.
The signing is likely to benefit both parties, with Forlan able to escape his Inter nightmare while winding down his career closer to home, while Internacional will likely bask in increased shirt and ticket sales after the unveiling of Uruguay’s all-time top scorer. Indeed, a club statement read “Diego Forlan is the new reinforcement of Internacional. The Uruguay player is in Milan and will arrive in Porto Alegre on Saturday. The player will be unveiled tomorrow.”, while Forlan himself had earlier this week admitted he was “excited” by speculation linking him with a move to Brazil.
Although Forlan will undoubtedly be the crown jewel in Internacional’s squad – which is entirely comprised of South Americans – he is not the club’s first player to have proved himself in Europe and at international level: Internacional alumni include AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato, World Cup-winning midfielder Dunga, Juventus new-boy Lúcio and Villarreal forward Nilmar.
Forlan becomes the second foreign superstar in the space of two weeks to move to the Brazilian top-flight, following Holland legend Clarence Seedorf’s transfer to Botafogo on 30 June. The pair, who have both won over 80 caps for their country, will join fellow footballing celebrities Ronaldinho, Neymar, Deco and Luis Fabiano in the 2012-13 Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, a league that is growing in stature and appeal to European fans with every marquee signing.