Pasquale Marino's hopes of keeping the indefatigable performances of Gökhan Inler under wraps at Udinese Calcio have been spoiled after the Swiss youngster was voted the best summer signing in Serie A.
'Most important player'
Inler has been hugely impressive since moving to Italy from FC Zürich in June, with the Corriere della Sera newspaper describing him as "tactically the most important player at Udinese". Still just 23, Inler was ever-present in the first half of the season, refusing to be cowed by the atmosphere at grounds such as the San Siro and the Stadio Olympico and immediately catching the eye. "It's impressive how many kilometres he runs every match without losing his effectiveness in orchestrating Udinese's game," Rome daily Il Messaggero noted.
That the Olten-born player should achieve so much so soon will come as little surprise to those who have followed his career since his professional debut for FC Solothurn at the tender age of 16. He joined FC Basel 1893 the following year, where he honed his distinct style in the holding position, characterised by a no-nonsense attitude, powerful challenges and a thunderous long-distance shot. He failed to break into Basel's first team but, after transferring to FC Aarau and spending two seasons there, he was to have the last laugh when he switched to Zürich in 2006.
"My goal was to establish myself as a regular at FCZ in the short term and to be called up for the national team in the mid-term," explained Inler, who by now had chosen to represent Switzerland rather than his parents' homeland Turkey. "Then maybe one day I could move to one of Europe's big leagues." He did not have to wait long for that eventuality, and after collecting back-to-back titles with Zürich – at Basel's expense – he sealed a move to Udinese last summer, signing a five-year contract with the Friulani. Seven months in, and things are going to plan.
"I arrived with great enthusiasm and that has not changed," Inler said. "Playing for Udinese is a great opportunity for young players like me. Marino does a great job and I'm very happy to play for him." Marino is glad to have him, if reluctant to highlight the midfielder's progress, explaining: "
I prefer not to talk too much about Inler because then the big clubs will start to watch him closely."
With Udinese riding fourth in Serie A at the halfway stage, those big clubs are certainly noticing the Zebrette, and with his personal prize secured, Swiss international Inler is hoping to maintain such forward momentum. "Nobody predicted we would do so well in the first part of the season," he said, a comment that could quite easily apply to his own displays. "My personal objective is to continue to improve and maybe score more goals in the future." Udinese's rivals have been warned.
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