What has happened to Maicon and Nesta?
Maicon was hailed as the best right back in the world not so long ago but Tottenham’s Gareth Bale has terrorised him twice in two weeks and Inter Milan fans are beginning to wonder if they should have cashed in and sold him to Real Madrid after all in the close season.
In the opposite San Siro dressing room, AC Milan’s Alessandro Nesta will also be getting a little twitchy after being exposed by Real Madrid on Wednesday.
He looked out of position for Gonzalo Higuain’s opener and his distribution was the worst I have seen from him. Even fans sat near me were surprised by his poor display, which shows what high standards Nesta has kept.
Nesta was among the very best centre backs in the world when Milan triumphed in the Champions League in 2007 but a long period of injury since has robbed the 34-year-old of some of his aura.
Juventus also really worried him in their 2-1 win last weekend.
Maicon is a different case, however. The Brazilian is still only 29 and should be in his prime. He was supposed to be the quickest and toughest right back around but speedster Bale completely dominated him.
Rumours of a move to Real were constant during the close season but Inter decided to end talks after deciding he was too good to let go after their treble triumph.
Did they make a mistake? I would say that last season Maicon was not quite as good as the season before or even the season before that. The signs were there that maybe he had peaked.
Players tend to have a purple patch — Ronaldinho at Barcelona, Crisitano Ronaldo in 2008 at Manchester United — and they are never quite as special afterwards.
In Maicon’s case, his hunger could well have diminished slightly after winning everything last season. Perhaps a transfer was exactly what he needed.
Maicon and Nesta are men enough to prove the doubters wrong but in the big games they need to start performing again.
PHOTO: Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale (L) challenges Inter Milan’s Maicon during their Champions League soccer match at White Hart Lane in London November 2, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez