Going into this weekend's game against Siena, Internazionale Milan were hovering just above the relegation zone on a mere eleven points after ten games, with Gian Piero Gasperini getting the boot following the Nerazzurri's worst start to a campaign in ninety years. Owner Massimo Moratti brought in journey-man Claudio Ranieri to replace him, and so far the story hasn't been much different: An unexpected and very much unacceptable start to the season for the 2010 Champions League winners.
Ranieri has managed to get Inter back on track in the Champions League, as they have secured the top spot in Group B with a game to spare. Despite that they have struggled to gain any ground on the title challengers, as they have only won three games in Serie A, while losing five and drawing the other two. With seventeen goals conceded and just fourteen scored, their top-scorer has been veteran striker Diego Milito on three goals. Deadline day summer signings Mauro Zarate and Diego Forlan have failed to make any impact at all, although Forlan has been out of action for several weeks. There's also Giampaolo Pazzini, but his consistency leaves something to be desired.
Perhaps it's time for a shake up of the forward line, but who?
After forty-five minutes at the Stadio Artemio Franchi-Montepaschi Arena in Tuscany, Siena and Inter were playing out a scoreless draw. Ranieri decided to shake things up by bringing on young Dutch striker Luc Castaignos for Zarate. The striker went on to score the winner in the final minute of normal time, turning sublimely from Thiago Motta's short pass and effortlessly finding the back of the net.
Nineteen year old Castaignos arrived at Inter Milan during last summer's transfer window from Eredivisie side Feyenoord. The Dutch player started his career at his local side Excelsior '20 at the age of just thirteen. Excelsior were a feeder club for Feyenoord, and they noticed potential in Castaignos, bringing him into the academy a year later in the summer of 2007. At the tender age of sixteen Feyenoord gave Castaignos his first professional contract. The deal tied him down to the club until the summer of 2011.
Castaignos's rise to fame internationally began after he took part in the 2009 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship in Germany. The striker was considered one of the most important players as the Netherlands finished runners-up, losing out to the hosts. Castaignos finished joint top goal scorer, with three goals, alongside Germany's Lennart Thy.
Following the Championships several 'big name' clubs expressed an interested in Castaignos, including the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Inter. The striker himself quashed the rumours and remained at Feyenoord. In September 2009 Castaignos make his first team debut for the club and went on to score sixteen goals in thirty-four appearances, displaying a great poacher-style ability along with bags of pace.
In March Inter finally made a concrete offer and it was announced that he would join in the summer of 2011 at the end of his contract. Castaignos scored his first goal for the Milan outfit against Celtic in a preseason tournament. Since then he has played a total of four matches, coming on predominately as a substitute. His goal against Siena now means he has scored the same number of goals as both Forlan and Pazzini in fewer appearances. Maybe it's time to give the young striker the chance to showcase his ability.