Luc Castaignos – Inter’s one who got away.
On March 4th 2011, Inter Milan announced they had signed the young Dutch sensation Luc Castaignos from Feyenoord for a fee believed to be around €3. They had beaten a whole host of top European clubs to the signing of the young player dubbed as the next ‘Thierry Henry’ . Mind you, the comparisons were inevitable seeing as Castaignos was equally adept at leading the line and cutting in from the left-wing. Inter fans anticipated the arrival of the 6ft 2, speedy striker into their strong forward ranks to play a small part for the team competing in 4 competitions.
At the age of 17 years old, Castaignos made his first League appearance for Feyenoord away at Groningen in early 2010. He was given precious little game time in his debut season and made 3 appearances for the side that had finished 4th. The undeniable excitement about Castaignos was built up from his amazing Netherlands U17 record as he became the top scorer in the history of the side with 13 goals in only 17 appearances. He was duly promoted to the U19 side with a record of 9 goals in 14 games. Such incredible records for such a young player highlights his raw predatory instinct and knack of being in the right place at the right time. In his second season at Feyenoord, he really made the top clubs stand up in admiration and clamber for his signature as he the finished the season with 15 goals in 34 matches although Feyenoord finished in a disappointing 10th position. Castaignos demonstrated his creativity that season as he held the ball up well and played rapid one-twos leaving defenders in his wake. The distinguishing attribute that established his reputation as Europe’s best young striker was his sharp movement in the box and clinical finishing. An example of this was his winner the 3-1 home victory against PSV in April 2011 were he anticipated the low cross, dashed past his marker to the front post as coolly side footed it into the net. Inter had a star on their books.
What happened next in Castaignos career was ultimately a stumbling block in his development as the 2011/12 season for Inter proved to be disastrous for him. The 3 managerial changes gave Castaignos little chance to showcase his talent and he was behind Pazzini, Milito and Zarate in the pecking order. He proved in the 2011 Dublin Super Cup that he had what it took to lead the line for Inter as his quick dart across the defence and powerful, precise finish into the bottom corner showed Gasperini not only should he be in the first team and not the Primavera but that he could make a vital contribution in one of the 4 competitions Inter were in. Opportunities after this were few and far between and his only notable contribution that season was his winner in the 90th minute in the away fixture against Siena. He latched onto Thiago Motta’s through ball, a first touch controlling the ball and striking it with ease into the bottom left corner to give Inter the late win. That was his only goal in a season where he made 6 appearances and he soon realised the prospect of him breaking into the first team for the Nerazzurri was extremely unlikely for the near future.
Rumours began to persist linking Luc Castaignos with a return back to Netherlands – but to Twente who had earlier lost their star striker Luuk De Jong to Borrusia Monchengladbach and were looking for a replacement striker. Luc Castaignos realised a move to The Grolsch Fortress would be ideal at this part of his career and his arrival was announced on the 28th of July when Twente splashed €6 on bringing the youngster back to his homeland. Inter Milan will surely be kicking themselves after allowing such a promising youngster to leave their faltering front line with expected departure of Giampaolo Pazzini , Diego Milito being on the wrong side of the 30, Samuele Longo and Marko Livaja unproven and unlikely to be called upon in this important season thus leaving Rodrigo Palacio as the only real danger man in their forward ranks. Luc Castaignos will slot straight into Steve McClaren’s first team plans and the 19 year old will most surely come back to prove those in the Inter hierarchy that they missed out on a diamond in the rough.