It's been a tough year for Adriano. He hasn't scored for Inter Milan for over 200 days. He's been dropped from Brazil's national team after a disappointing World Cup. And this week a radio station in Italy awarded him the Golden Trash Can (Bidone d'Oro), after listeners overwhelmingly selected him as the most disappointing player of 2006.
Inter managers and coach Mancini thought the 24-year old striker might find his way back to goal if he could just relax a little: they sent him on vacation to Brazil for most of November, in the middle of the Serie A season. Even that didn't work out: soccer sleuths in Rio reported he spent much of his time drinking beer and riding motorcycles. Back from Brazil, he had a half-decent game against Palermo (2-1) but was kept out of the 1-1 match vs. Bayern Munich, apparently because of back problems. Meanwhile, the Italian press is reporting a paparazzi blackmail scheme (photos of football stars caught in intimate moments involving women other than their wives and girlfriends) that apparently targeted Totti, Vieri and...Adriano.
Inter's strong performance as a team this year has been the positive note in all this, but it’s also raising a question as to whether they really need Adriano: they did just fine when he was away.
Can the Emperor can ever be restored to his former glory?
Some think that if it weren't for the awful relations between Fiorentina's owner della Valle and Inter's boss Moratti (relations between the two soured over the Calciopoli scandals that left Inter unscathed), Adriano – and the viola -- could've benefited enormously from a transfer of few months to Florence playing in an offensive trident with Adrian Mutu and Luca Toni. Why? For one thing, because of coach Cesare Prandelli, who nurtured Adriano at Parma for two seasons.
That may be just speculation on the part of Fiorentina fans. Meanwhile, Adriano’s teammate Hernan Crespo is doing everyone a favor by reminding critics that it may be much to early to speak so dismissively a player who’s only 24 years old.