When the winter transfer market opened at the start of January, few expected Australian international Trent Sainsbury to join one of the giants of Italian Football in a last minute loan deal.
Haven’t heard that name before? Unsurprising given Sainsbury’s career has seen the defender ply his trade for lesser known clubs, in leagues that can be labelled less popular than that of the top four European leagues.
Trent Sainsbury has gone against the grain by departing China for Europe, using the connection between Jiangsu and Inter to engineer a move to a fallen giant looking to regain their footing in both Serie A as well as Europe. The player has been pivotal in his time in China, and his move to Inter allows Stefano Pioli the luxury of calling on 5 centre backs for the remainder of the season.
Despite making a move to Inter in the January transfer window, it hasn’t always been easy for the Australian international who has had to take less popular route to the big leagues in Europe. Trent Sainsbury, born in Perth Australia began his burgeoning career in a relatively small town of Gosford.
The then 18 year old joined the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League (Australia’s professional football division). It would take over two years before Sainsbury managed to crack the first team and establish himself as one of the best defenders in Australia in the 2012-2013 season in which the Mariners would claim their first A-League title.
As with many players who experience a break out season, he was linked with a move to Europe. Sainsbury would depart for PEC Zwolle in Holland, after making 69 appearances for the Mariners.
Sadly his time in Holland was marred with a horrible knee injury which ruled out his entire 2013-2014 season. The season after Sainsbury would return to form making 23 appearances, displaying his gracefulness and ability to judge the game began to emerge. To many, including Australian national team coach Ange Postecoglou his re-emergence came at the right time.
Trent Sainsbury would travel to Australia, to participate in the Asian Cup in 2015 and helped to drive the home nation to their very first major trophy. This triumph would benefit the game in general, helping to boost the games popularity as well create exposure to wider audience than the A-League.
Sainsbury would move from Holland to Jiangsu Suning (the same group who owns Inter) in a transfer worth 1.5 million, to an otherwise surprised reaction from many who assumed he would continue to pursue his career in Europe. The lure of the big money from China was clearly toomuch to resist as evidenced by a plethora of top footballers.
January 2017 Transfer window shut with the surprise that Sainsbury will no longer strutting pitches in China, and will be debuting in one of the world’s toughest leagues, where players tactical and defensive acumen are put to the test regularly. Australian’s have long plied their trade in Serie A previously with plenty of aplomb from the likes of Paul Okon, Vince Grella, and Marco Bresciano. Of course there have been a few disappointments but by far and large Australians have been able to create respectable reputations in Italy.
Sainsbury’s move will hopefully signify another generation of stars, and possibly herald more Australians in Serie A once again. The loan move has many benefits as it will likely help to develop his game in many respects which will not only benefit the player, and Inter but also the national team.
Fans were astounded at the shock signing of Sainsbury, however the circumstances and scenario surrounding the transfer shouldn’t given its logic. The departure of Italian international Andrea Ranocchia to Hull City created a significant gap in Inter’s squad, thus a replacement was needed and quickly. The other factor that played into the players favour is the joint ownership of Jiangsu and Inter under Suning. No negotiations needed, and as China have implemented a new restriction on the number of foreign players in a line up to 3, it solved two issues in one move.
So what will the Australian international bring to Inter?
For one, Sainsbury is tall and possess plenty of pace for his height to man mark strikers comfortably, as well as being able to start attacks from the back. Inter fans should not be worried given that Sainsbury has had to mark a number of top forwards from Europe in the last year with the Jaingsu conceding little when he was on the pitch. Additionally he arrives with a winning mentality given he has lifted titles in Australia, two cups in Holland, as well as the aforementioned Asian Cup with Australia.
Will Trent Sainsbury be Pioli’s first choice? Certainly not and if an Italian international struggled then Sainsbury maybe in the similar boat. Miranda and Murillo are the undisputed first choice centre backs, however in football anything can happen. Inter’s other centre back options include Yao and Marco Andreolli who combined have played one match. If injury, suspension or a player falling out occurs don’t be surprised if Sainsbury is the first name on the list.
Sainsbury will be much of an unknown to fans of Inter, and Serie A unlike but he could be in the team faster than many thought. If this move works well, then Inter will have an affordable, reliable defensive option for many years to come with many applauding the transfer.