Inter scout Maccarone
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
INTERNAZIONALE posted former Middlesbrough striker Marco Branca to watch Boro's Italian star Massimo Maccarone.
The Italian transfer market was not the bustling hive of activity it normally is this summer and the clubs involved only bought what they needed - an unaccustomed practice in Serie A.
Because of this Middlesbrough were able to sign Maccarone, who was one of the hottest properties in Italy, for a fee of £8.1 million.
Boro managed to match Empoli's asking price, something which previous suitors Juventus and Lazio were unwilling to do.
Roma are already believed to have been in contact with Boro in the hope of persuading the Teessiders to give them first refusal - although this was rejected out of hand earlier this summer.
Inter have now dispatched Branca to keep an eye on Maccarone's progress - something most of Italy's big guns are expected to do over the next nine months.
Branca was reportedly at Old Trafford for Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni, but planetfootball.com has been told that he is working for Inter and not Italy, although the Azzurri coach well ask the former Boro's player's opinion on their current star.
"At the moment he is only working for Inter," Branca's solicitor Angelo Cascella told planetfootball.
"He has been acting as an advisor for them."
Maccarone struggled in Tuesday's game against Manchester United, although much could be blamed on Boro's defensive system, but despite his poor showing he will be continually monitored by Serie A major hitters as long as he remains in The Premiership.
Italy's big clubs are always loathed to lose their best talent to England, although they are seemingly confident they will be able to lure Maccarone back to his homeland when they see fit - probably in 2004.
Maccarone is yet to make the Italian senior squad since his move to England, although he has been included in the provisional party on more than one occasion.